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Steve Von Till/Scott Kelly/Wino

Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly, and Wino

Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Sept. 14, 2012

Phases & Stages

Steve Von Till/Scott Kelly/Wino

Songs of Townes Van Zandt (Neurot)

Given the thick streak of darkness running through the Townes Van Zandt oeuvre, it's no surprise his tunes appeal to like-minded musos outside the folk universe. Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till of art-metal aggregation Neurosis and Scott "Wino" Weinrich of pioneering stoner rockers Saint Vitus and the Obsessed have long covered the Texas bard's work during acoustic shows, so a tribute LP was inevitable. As intriguing as the concept of underground metalheads sifting Townes tunes through a haze of collective distortion is, the trio instead contributes three solo takes each from the black end of Van Zandt's pool ("Lungs," "A Song for," "St. John, the Gambler," "Nothing"). Electricity manifests, but arrangements center around acoustic guitars, droning vocals, and sadness. Some variety of mood and tempo would be welcome here, but the performances are uniformly heartfelt, and if they introduce Van Zandt's marvels to an audience that probably doesn't know he exists, so much the better.

***

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