By Jody Rosen
Updated October 30, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
Willie Nelson: Jim Herrington

America’s greatest living ballad singer is notoriously inconsistent — just listen to last year’s ghastly reggae experiment, Countryman. But Songbird, a collaboration with Ryan Adams (who produced and lent his backing band) is Willie Nelson’s finest in a decade. The sound is burly, surrounding his inimitable lilt with shuddering electric guitars. But the slow and stately stuff really sparkles, such as a weirdly menacing cover of ”Amazing Grace” and the new Nelson composition ”Back to Earth,” which proves the old troubadour can still write the best weepers around.

Advertisement

Comments