Various Artists

Sweet Relief II

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Madonna, R.E.M., Live, and Hootie & the Blowfish are among the artists who tackle Athens, GA, singer/songwriter Chesnutt's music on this volume for Sweet Relief, the foundation Victoria Williams established to assist ailing musicians such as herself and Chesnutt, who is paraplegic. Although the hard grunge "Sponge," contributed by hometown friends R.E.M., makes perfect sense, other contributions meet with questionable results. "Guilty by Association" by Madonna and her brother-in-law Joe Henry turns a dark ballad into a semi-orchestrated piece. Nanci Griffith and Darius Rucker's "Gravity of the Situation" is bland. But fans of quirky singer Mary Margaret O'Hara will be enthralled by her spare "Florida," and the Chesnutt/Williams collaboration "God Is Good" closes the set on a hope-filled note; it's the best of the 14 tracks.

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