Library Classification: V for Various
File Under: Country / Indie-Folk
Artist: Various (John Denver, if you must)
Title: The Music Is You: A Tribute To John Denver
Label: ATO Records
Date(s) Recorded: 2013
Date Released: 04/02/2013
Date Received: 04/08/2013
Play: 3-All Of My Memories (holy crap), 1-Leaving On A Jet Plane (also holy crap), 4-Prisoners (\m/), 12-Take Me Home Country Road, 13-The Eagle And The Hawk, 16-Wooden Indian (weirdness from Edward Sharpe, etc.)
RIYL: John Denver (duh), Indie Folk / Alt-Country, Soundtracks to your childhood and/or trips you never took to Colorado.
In a nutshell: Modern takes on a country legend. If you’re too young to remember, here’s your gateway. Listen up, young folks.
Comments: I really feel for kids these days. They didn’t get to grow up with the Clinton years, though some would argue the Obama years are better in some ways. But if you remember Reagan or Carter, then you might have a soft spot for John Denver. My folks were fans, so it reminds me of my childhood.
As with all tributes / soundtracks / collections, some tracks are stronger than others. The album is definitely front loaded. John Denver’s starry-eyed optimism can shine even through simplest of instrumentation and starkest of vocals. Case in point, the album’s opener, Jim James/MMJ singing “Leaving On A Jet Plane” or Kathleen Edwards with “All Of My Memories” (3). Holy crap, them’s some pipes.
On the other hand, you have radical re-interpretations like J.Masics & Sharon Van Etton handling “Prisoners” (4). I don’t think J.D. ever shredded quite like J. Or, even weirder, is the album’s closing track, “Wooden Indian” (16). Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes take a song that was once country, drag it though a futuristic wasteland, and make it into something very much their own. This is the other thing that cover albums do, give artists a chance to re-interpret their influences, transforming classic songs into something either very current, or very timeless.