Willie Nelson, "To All The Girls ..." (Sony Legacy)
Willie Nelson's "To All The Girls ...," an album of duets with female partners, is custom-made for the download age. Few fans will connect with all 16 songs -- the set is too eclectic and too inconsistent for that. But plenty of gold nuggets shine through for those willing to pick through the miscues and throwaways.
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The second album of original material released this year by Nelson, and his fifth new album in three years, the ever-productive 80-year-old keeps pouring out new music, even when a little self-editing might make the individual packages stronger.
The gems on "To All The Girls ..." include a stunning multi-lingual duet with Alison Krauss on "No Mas Amor" (written by Keith Gattis and Sammy Barrett) and covers of Merle Haggard's "Somewhere Between," in an emotion-packed version with Loretta Lynn, and a swinging "Till The End Of The World" with Shelby Lynne.
On the other hand, Dolly Parton's self-written contribution, "From Here To The Moon And Back," suffers from over-sentimentality. A cover of the country chestnut, "Making Believe," drags due to a lifeless reading by Nelson -- a point driven home by how much more feeling duet partner Brandi Carlile brings to her part.
Nelson's previous album, "Let's Face The Music And Dance" -- released just six months ago -- is among 2013's less-recognized highlights. Some selective care would have made "To All The Girls ..." another strong outing, rather than one that alternately soars and sputters.