Willie Nelson - Songbird
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Songbird (Lost Highway, 2006)

Willie Nelson

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

Take one icon and put him with one current critical darling and see if they can work and record together. At least that was the idea behind Willie Nelson's latest where is he is backed and assisted by Ryan Adams and The Cardinals. And while it is not on par with Nelson's best stuff, the challenge seems to have made some tunes come off quite nicely, including the fine bluesy opener "Rainy Day Blues," which sounds like Dylan's current format.

But the choice of covers is a hit and miss affair, beginning with a mediocre take on Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird." Following the slow, soulful gospel-meets-country of "Blue Hotel" penned by Adams, Nelson shines on his own material such as "Back To Earth." Yet even the tender "Stella Blue" written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter is a murky stretch at best. The same can be said for the waltz-like rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

However, there are some gems here, particularly the ragged, moody and Stones-like "$1000 Wedding" written by Gram Parsons as well as the chugging, toe-tapper "We Don't Run." And Nelson shines with the tender traditional country of "Yours Love." Closing the album is a rather strange but powerful "Amazing Grace" that is a dark version of the classic. It's an album that makes you forget about the "Countryman" fiasco.

CDs by Willie Nelson

Bluegrass, 2023 Don't Know A Thing About Love, 2023 A Beautiful Time, 2022 That's Life, 2021 First Rose of Spring, 2020 Ride Me Back Home, 2019 My Way, 2018 Last Man Standing, 2018 Willie's Stash Volume 2, 2017 God's Problem Child, 2017 Summertime Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, 2016 Band of Brothers, 2014 To All the Girls..., 2013 Let's Face the Music and Dance, 2013 Freedom, 2012 Remember Me Vol. 1, 2011 Country Music, 2010 American Classic, 2009 Lost Highway, 2009 Naked Willie, 2009 One Hell of a Ride, 2008 Moment of Forever, 2008 Songbird, 2006 Live From Austin, TX, 2006 Songs of Cindy Walker, 2006 You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, 2006

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