Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake

Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake will be released on April 16th. The tribute to the late, great Nick Drake was assembled by Drake’s original producer Joe Boyd. Recorded live in London and Melbourne with the various artists sharing harmonies and instrumentation throughout the album, Way to Blue features Lisa Hannigan, Vashti Bunyan, Shane Nicholson, Teddy Thompson, Robyn Hitchcock and many more.

Luluc’s opening rendition of “Things Behind the Sun” sounds like Nico covering Nick Drake, which I happen to like.

Scott Matthews’ “Place to Be” is as deliciously gritty as an Eddie Vedder song.

Shane Nicholson (a.k.a. Mr. Kasey Chambers) manages to infuse “Poor Boy” with just enough pep and twang to make it fresh without compromising the integrity of the original.

The standout track is Krystle Warren’s soulful rendering of “Time Has Told Me,” the video of which you can watch below.

Vashti Bunyan and Lisa Hannigan are a perfect fits for their respective covers of “Which Will” and “Black Eyed Dog.”

Teddy Thompson’s “River Man” is surprisingly effective. It’s my second favorite Nick Drake song (after “Northern Sky,” which is sadly absent here) so I was cynical going in. But the piano and string arrangement of this cover is beautiful. You can watch the video below.

None of the tracks are weak, though many others blend into the background. There are so many other artists – Allison Crowe, Rufus Wainwright Shawn Colvin, The Low Anthem, Lost in the Trees, The Lumineers, Brandi Carlisle – that could’ve taken this tribute to another level of brilliance. So Way to Blue is a solid tribute to the legendary Nick Drake, but I can’t help feeling there was potential, lost, for magnificence.

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Various Artists: Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan

Brendan‘s back with a review of Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan. Amnesty International’s four-disc tribute to Dylan’s substantial catalogue was recently released in honor of the human rights organization’s 50th anniversary. The lengthy tribute features Dylan covers by Adele, Angelique Kidjo, Flogging Molly, The Gaslight Anthem, K’naan, Mariachi El Bronx, My Chemical Romance, Pete Seeger, Patti Smith, Queens of the Stone Age, Sinead O’Connor and many more.

There is something for everybody on this four-disc set of Bob Dylan covers. Unfortunately, this also means there will be some songs that don’t suit your tastes. For me, that dissatisfaction is exemplified by offerings by Ke$ha and Cage The Elephant. Eventually, I whittled the collection down to a core of 30 great renditions, some of which I’ll highlight here.

Easily topping my list is Diana Krall’s gorgeous version of “A Simple Twist of Fate.” As always, Krall’s voice drips with honey and inflects the lyrics with tenderness. Incidentally, if you haven’t heard her version of “A Case of You,” do yourself a favor and track it down.

Joan Baez’s voice manages to be revelatory every time I hear her, and her version of “Seven Curses” is beautiful.

I had not heard much by Dierks Bentley before, but his banjo-accompanied version of “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” stands out from the pack.

Kris Kristofferson’s voice has matured into one that sounds eerily similar to Leonard Cohen’s and his version of “Quinn the Eskimo” is another highlight of the collection.

Mark Knopfler gives “Restless Farewell” a welcome Celtic flavor, while Flogging Molly are at their boisterous best on “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

Mick Hucknall’s “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” is almost an impersonation of Dylan but still a memorable track, and the instantly recognizable voice of Brett Dennen offers up an enthusiastic “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

Sting’s “Girl From the North Country” is a welcome addition, as is the unique instrumental “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” performed by Kronos Quartet.

I love Bryan Ferry’s voice and his “Bob Dylan’s Dream” is so good, I’m excited to hear his 2006 album Dylanesque – for which the track apparently wasn’t good enough.

Other names on the tribute I’d previously been unfamiliar with, but hope to hear more from are: The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Tom Morello, Thea Gilmore, Ximena Sarinana, We Are Augustines, Darren Kriss, and The Belle Brigade.

We were not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below…

Buy @ Amazon

Buy @ Amnesty International

Various Artists: Listen to Me: A Tribute to Buddy Holly

Listen to Me: A Tribute to Buddy Holly was released so shortly after the Rave On Buddy Holly that it got lost in the shuffle of my review folder last year. Even months later, Listen to Me still suffers by comparison to the other Buddy Holly tribute. This is at least in part due to what seems to be a bit of a musical identity crisis – some truly great folk and rockabilly moments are lost betwixt bland pop covers and random classic rock. It’s good enough to bother reviewing, but had the potential to be so much better.

The opening cover of “Not Fade Away” by Stevie Nicks can’t hold a candle to Florence & The Machine’s wailing, quaking rendition on Rave On Buddy Holly, but it is nonetheless endearingly peppy and handclappy.

Imelda May‘s brassed up, punk meets rockabilly take on “Lookin’ for Someone to Love” and Linda Rhondstadt’s classic 1976 cover of “That’ll Be The Day” are highlights.

The stand out track is a beautiful piano and vioin rendering of “Learning the Game” by Natalie Merchant.

Fall Out Boy singer, Patrick Stump, gives a surprisingly gentle and melodic version of “Everyday,” but I was disappointed with Zooey Deschanel‘s “It’s So Easy.” I usually love anything she sings, but this particular arrangement weighs her voice down.

The humorous spoken word “Raining in My Heart” by Monty Python’s Eric Idle is the tribute’s bizarre finale. Otherwise, this is a very safe, adult contemporary collection of Buddy Holly covers. Which isn’t a bad thing, just nothing to get excited about.

BUY @ AMAZON

Tribute Official Site

Liz Janes Tribute & Son Lux Mp3

Time & Space is a new tribute EP to Asthmatic Kitty artist Liz Janes. The EP features covers of seven Liz Janes songs by artists such as My Brightest Diamond, Fol Chen, Black Heart Procession and Son Lux. Asthmatic Kitty is offering a free, legal mp3 of Son Lux’ chiming cover of the Liz Jane song “Desert.”

Son Lux – Desert (mp3)*

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of Asthmatic Kitty Records

Time & Space Tracklist:

1. Son Lux – Desert
2. My Brightest Diamond – Bitty Thing
3. Helado Negro – Tristeza
4. Black Heart Procession – Martyr’s Grind Up
5. Fol Chen – Streetlight
6. Danielson – Wonderkiller
7. Arrington de Dionyso – Poison & Snakes

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Cowboy Junkies: Vic Chesnutt Cover Mp3

Cowboy Junkies will release the second album of their four-volume “The Nomad Series” on February 15, 2011. Demons is a tribute to the late, great Vic Chesnutt. The covers album is one of my most anticipated releases of the new year. Following is a free, legal mp3 from the album.

Cowboy Junkies – Wrong Piano (mp3)*

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of band’s PR rep

Pre-order @ Amazon

Pre-order @ Band’s Website