Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Willie Nelson: Face of a Fighter [Lone Star, 1978]
It's been four years since Nelson put together an album of the mournful country love songs that earned him an outlaw's independence, and even that was a concept job. These ten slow songs--maybe six special, no clinkers--were recorded thirteen years before that, apparently as demos, and the music is wonderful. Nelson's voice has never come on more fragile or deliberate--you can almost hear him figuring out what commonplace he's going to illuminate next--and his bland sounds equally sure-footed. Rarely is there a lick you haven't heard somewhere before, but the lick always seems just a leetle different, which may be because it's so exquisitely timed and may be because it's just a leetle different. A-