Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Willie Nelson: A Beautiful Time [Legacy, 2022]
I keep up with Nelson's phenomenal if not always knockout album output better than most--this one, released April 29 to mark his 89th birthday, makes 45 solo albums reviewed plus 16 collabs. To the best of my recollection, his 2021 Sinatra tribute--the second one, That's Life it's called--seemed de trop. But from Rodney Crowell and Chris Stapleton's jaw-dropping "That one sharp conversation is still the reason why" defining the leadoff "I'll Love You Till the Day I Die," this one had my number. The five new Buddy Cannon collabs including "I Don't Go to Funerals" plus Shawn Camp's title number would have sufficed and then some. Only just when you think he's fulfilled his death-defying quota and then some come two covers it's hard to believe he's new to: Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song" implausibly topped by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and let us not forget Ringo Starr's "With a Little Help From My Friends." Both are transcendent, not to say death-defying. Can he top this come his 90th? Don't bet no. A