various artists and Jim James
Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill, and Tribute To (American Dust)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 11, 2009
Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill(American Dust)
Yim YamesTribute To (ATO)
Judee Sill's obscurity lasted until her only two albums, 1971's eponymous debut and 1972's Heart Food, were reissued in 2005. Thirty years after her fatal heroin overdose, she's again found indie acclaim. Ron Sexsmith and Beth Orton are ideally suited for Sill's sincere, religiously tinged ballads, the former gently strumming Crayon Angel's title track while the latter unearths the never recorded "Reach for the Sky." Frida Hyvönen stirs the songwriter's best known "Jesus Was a Crossmaker," and Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen swoons through "Waterfall," but other reinterpretations prove too quirky for Sill's earnestness (Princeton's "Down Where the Valleys Are Low," Final Fantasy's "The Donor"). Bill Callahan's eight-minute interpretation of unrecorded "For a Rainbow" intrigues, however, as does Marissa Nadler's dreamlike "The Kiss." George Harrison requires no revival, but My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James' tribute EP, recorded after the Beatle's death in 2001, captures the contemplative beauty of Harrison's songs in stripped, comfortably reverbed fashion. With stark banjo substituting for sitar on "Love You To" and "Behind That Locked Door" rendered hauntingly acoustic, James inhabits the six tunes with poignant reverence, especially in the stunning yearning of "My Sweet Lord" and "All Things Must Pass."