Various Artists: Crayon Angel: A Tribute To Judee Sill

Crayon Angel: A Tribute To The Music of Judee Sill features Beth Orton, Ron Sexsmith, Final Fantasy, Marisa Nadler, Frida Hyvönen, and Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear among others covering the songs of folk singer-songwriter Judee Sill. The album will be released on September 22nd.

With the exceptions of Ron Sexsmith’s performance of the album’s title track and The Bye Bye Blackbirds’ take on “There’s A Rugged Road” (my personal favorite of Sill’s songs – Shawn Colvin‘s version is also great), it seems Sill’s music is much better suited to female voices. The other male covers seem flat to me, and I’d much rather listen to Judee’s soft coos and operatic trills. But Beth Orton’s recording of “Reach for the Sky” and Frida Hyvönen’s rendering of “Jesus Was A Cross Maker” (my other favorite Sill song) are particularly good. And the stand out track is “The Kiss” by Marissa Nadler & Black Hole Infinity.

Track list for Crayon Angel: A Tribute To The Music of Judee Sill:

01 Ron Sexsmith: “Crayon Angel”
02 Beth Orton: “Reach for the Sky”
03 Daniel Rossen: “Waterfall”
04 Frida Hyvönen: “Jesus Was a Cross Maker”
05 Shalants: “Lopin Along Thru the Cosmos”
06 Final Fantasy: “The Donor”
07 Nicolai Dunger: “Soldier of the Heart”
08 Trembling Blue Stars: “Lady-O”
09 Colossal Yes: “The Phoenix”
10 Marissa Nadler & Black Hole Infinity: “The Kiss”
11 Princeton: “Down Where the Valleys Are Low”
12 The Bye Bye Blackbirds: “There’s a Rugged Road”
13 Meg Baird: “When the Bridegroom Comes”
14 Bill Callahan: “For a Rainbow”
15 P.G. Six: “Til Dreams Come True”

Daniel Rossen – Waterfall (mp3) *

*mp3 posted w/ permission of Forcefield PR

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Soundtrack: Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man

The soundtrack to the documentary Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man features classic songs written by Leonard Cohen performed live during a concert called “Came So Far For Beauty: An Evening Of Leonard Cohen Songs”. Among the performers are Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Antony (of the Johnsons), Jarvis Cocker, The Handsome Family, and Mr. Cohen himself with U2. There aren’t many songwriters like Leonard Cohen, and this collection of covers is a grand encomium to his enormous talent.

Martha Wainwright starts it up with a throaty, wailing rendition of “Tower of Song”. Nick Cave churns out a swaggering cabaret of “I’m Your Man”. Kate & Anna McGarrigle join Martha Wainwright to form an angelic choir on “Winter Lady”.

While I prefer Serena Ryder‘s more melodic interpretation of “Sisters Of Mercy”, Beth Orton gives an earnestly solemn performance of it here. Though “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” are my favourite Cohen songs, it’s “Sisters of Mercy” that contains my best-loved Leonard lyric – “if your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn, they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem”.

I was pleasantly surprised by Rufus Wainwright’s semisweet rendering of “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”. If only he showed off that astounding vocal range more often. Speaking of astounding voices, I truly believe that Antony‘s quivering voice could fill any song with depth and heartache. His cover of “If It Be Your Will” is no exception.

The Handsome Family take on “Famous Blue Raincoat” isn’t bad, but it pales in comparison to the original or even the cover by Tori Amos. Rufus Wainwright’s nasal performance on “Everybody Knows” could neither compete with the Cohen version nor the Concrete Blonde cover, but the new arrangement is saucy enough to keep it interesting.

Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen give a soulful presentation of “Anthem” before the bottomless voice of the man himself Leonard Cohen is paired with the electronic pop-rock of U2 for the finale “Tower Of Song”.

Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man Official Site
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