Review: Drake looms over tribute 'Way to Blue'

Associated Press
This CD cover image released by StorySound Records shows the tribute album "Way To Blue - The Songs Of Nick Drake," by various artists. (AP Photo/StorySound Records)
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This CD cover image released by StorySound Records shows the tribute album "Way To Blue - The Songs Of Nick Drake," by various artists. (AP Photo/StorySound Records)

Various Artists, "Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake" (StorySound)

The English singer-songwriter Nick Drake died in 1974 at the age of 26 from an accidental overdose after having recorded just three albums.

He was reluctant to perform live or give interviews, impacting his ability to break through during his lifetime. Posthumously, though, Drake's songs — marked by his gentle voice, poetic lyrics and unique musicianship — have gained prominence and are re-examined on the new tribute album "Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake."

"Way to Blue" was produced by Joe Boyd, Drake's first producer, and recorded during a series of live performances in the Britain, Australia and Italy by artists including Robyn Hitchcock, Teddy Thomspson, Scott Matthews and Luluc.

With a songwriter so marvelously unique, a tribute record becomes a tricky business. Listeners familiar with Drake's oeuvre will long for his singular style. Some of the performances on Way to Blue emulate Drake's sound more closely than others - English artist Scott Matthews' vocals on "Place to Be", though more overtly emotive than Drake's, come closest.

Others, like Thompson and Krystle Warren's take on "Pink Moon," leave you remembering the original is so utterly magical, you'll find yourself unearthing the original.

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Follow James H. Collins: http://twitter.com/JimCollinsAP.

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