by Willie Nelson



Whether it's the presence of Ryan Adams as producer and Adams's band, the Cardinals, in support, or simply a sign of reinvigoration on his part, Willie Nelson comes to Songbird with palpable purpose -- you can feel his commitment to the moment in every song, from the boozy kickoff of his own reconstituted "Rainy Day Blues" to a stunning, album-closing treatment of "Amazing Grace" as an ironic blues ballad. In between those bookends, Willie does nothing less than remind us of what a great singer can do with a lyric by dint of intellect and heart -- the shading and nuance of his readings here rival the depth he achieved on the Daniel Lanois-produced Teatro. The Cardinals back him on their own terms, sensitive to the unfolding drama in each song and adding evocative twang and sludge to the soundscape; of Willie's usual "family," only harmonica master Mickey Raphael is present, but every time he shows up it's memorable. From his own rich catalog Willie delivers "Sad Songs and Waltzes," then ventures forth to turn Jerry Garcia-Robert Hunter's "Stella Blue" into a country tear-jerker. Unlike Jack White, who had to be sure everyone knew he was on Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose, Adams is a benign presence on Songbird: his voice comes through when Willie explores the melancholy beauty of Adams's "Blue Hotel" (a song the producer wrote especially for his artist), and in a foreboding sonic setting rife with pedal steel moans and Raphael's heart-rending harmonica punctuations. The coup de grace is a version of Leonard Cohen's venerated "Hallelujah," to which Willie brings Brechtian drama by way of his understated irony and a vocal approach clearly indebted to Cohen's own parched reading. A masterpiece.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/31/2006
Label: Lost Highway
UPC: 0602498583531
catalogNumber: 000693902

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Willie Nelson   Primary Artist,Harmonica
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica
Karen Bernod   Choir, Chorus
Neal Casal   Guitar,Piano,Keyboards
Melonie Daniels   Choir, Chorus
Jon Graboff   Pedal Steel Guitar
Glenn Patscha   Keyboards,Hammond Organ
Horace V. Rogers   Choir, Chorus
Ryan Adams   Acoustic Guitar,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar
Tiffany Palmer   Choir, Chorus
Darius Booker   Choir, Chorus
Catherine Popper   Bass Guitar
Tiffany Anderson   Choir, Chorus
Felicia Graham   Choir, Chorus
Carlos Ricketts   Choir, Chorus
Brad Pemberton   Drums

Technical Credits

Craig Allen   Art Direction
Jim Keller   Engineer
Jamie Candiloro   Engineer
Melonie Daniels   Vocal Arrangements
Danny Clinch   Cover Photo
Ryan Adams   Producer,Audio Production
Tiffany Palmer   Vocal Arrangements
Darius Booker   Vocal Arrangements
Peter Doris   Engineer
Gus Oberg   Engineer
Carlos Ricketts   Choir Arrangement
Eddie Jackson   Engineer
Tom Gloady   Engineer

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