Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake
Nick Drake is the poster child for the stereotype of the musician doomed to die young in relative obscurity, but rediscovered and championed by future generations. His three late 60s/early 70s albums seem like perfect musical jewels to contemporary ears, but back in the day they were only privately cherished by the lucky few who heard them, many of whom were fellow artists. It took the inspired decision to use his song "Pink Moon" in a Volkswagen TV commercial in 1999 to bring his music to a larger audience. These days Drake seems an obvious inspiration for artists ranging from Damien Rice to Richard Buckner to Tom Odell.
Over the past few years, legendary producer Joe Boyd, who produced the majority of Drake's original recordings, put together a series of global concerts celebrating his music, from Melbourne to London, and this collection features some of the highlights of these live shows. The stellar backing band included Danny Thompson, the master of the double bass who recorded with Drake, and glorious string arrangements were provided by Drake's original arranger, the late Robert Kirby. A rotating series of guest vocalists filled out the line-ups, ranging from Robyn Hitchcock, Vashti Bunyan, Lisa Hannigan, Teddy Thompson, and Scritti Politti main man Green Gartside, among others. Some match Drake's hushed, yet profoundly emotional delivery, while others express themselves more emphatically. But all serve Drake's timeless songwriting in this welcome tribute.
-Eric J. Lawrence