Leave it to Ryan Adams to think he can make Willie Nelson sound better. Teamed with the aforementioned demigod and his band of Cardinals, Nelson produces another hearty campfire lullaby—unfortunately the process has been over-processed. You get the impression from Nelson that he would do it all anyway, playing your local watering hole with just his beat-up guitar. It’s no surprise that Songbird is at its best when things are stripped down—less Adams, less Cardinals. Nothing illustrates this more than “$1,000 Wedding,” which begins with that familiar voice, but then gets an unneeded punch, breaking in with a choir that makes you feel like you’re listening to something off the Dreamgirls soundtrack. But the spare “Sad Songs and Waltzes” makes you remember why Nelson’s been around forever. Ultimately, his voice is the saving grace of Songbird, offering his hand and guiding you through the album. And it’s hard not to enjoy his prose and laugh a little—even when you can hear Ryan Adams trying to jam something in there.