15.95 Out Of Stock
Nick Drake's songs have attracted a large number of admirers for their beauty and melancholy, but few can have approached those compositions with the stylistic imagination found on Songlines Recordings' Poor Boy: Songs of Nick Drake. Songlines owner Tony Reif organized a tribute concert to Drake in Vancouver, Canada, in 1999 featuring many of the artists heard here, and he added to them with many musicians based in Seattle. While the result is many different interpretations of Drake's work, the lengthy CD breaks down for the most part into two halves. In the first seven songs, the artists basically take Drake's simple folk melodies and sad lyrics as the basis for jazz performances, much as if they were the work of Rodgers & Hart. Kate Hammett-Vaughan begins "Clothes of Sand," the second track, a cappella before being joined by Chris Gestrin's piano, Ron Samworth's guitar, and Simon Fisk's bass in an arrangement that recalls Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit." Then Gestrin and Fisk return for "One of These Things First," which they treat as a jazzy piano instrumental in the style of Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson. In "Three Hours," Jason Michas gives the lyrics a forthright, declarative reading that suggests Nina Simone or Sarah Vaughan. The François Houle 6, led by Houle, a clarinetist, spends 14 minutes working its way through an original atonal instrumental called "For Nick" and into a medley of Drake's "Horn" and "Know." And Hammett-Vaughan returns for a bluesy version of "Poor Boy" that would fit into any good set in a jazz club. By this halfway mark in the album, the listener may be forgetting the elegant, becalmed folk arrangements found on Drake's own albums, but Mike Dumovich returns to familiar ground on "Fly," and most of the rest of the album is given over to versions of Drake songs performed more in the spirit of the original versions, although Veda Hille and Robin Holcomb mix things up in a four-handed piano treatment of "Road," and Ian Moore and Eyvind Kang turn "Black Eyed Dog" into something of an Indian raga, complete with sitar. Drake fans ultimately may prefer the songwriter's own recordings, but this album demonstrates that his songs can be interpreted differently, which speaks well for their long-term appeal.