Various Artists

Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot

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Virtually all of the 15 artists pitching in on this Lightfoot tribute are Canadian, Maria Muldaur being the notable exception. Otherwise, the roster mixes some Canadian, or at any rate Canadian-based (in Jesse Winchester's case), icons like Cowboy Junkies, Bruce Cockburn, and Murray McLauchlan; more mid-level acts like Blue Rodeo, Ron Sexsmith, the Tragically Hip, and Quartette (with Sylvia Tyson); and a smattering of artists known primarily to Canadian audiences. It's very much in the mold of many respectable but rather dull tribute albums. Some are competently reverent covers that stay pretty faithful to Lightfoot's well-known arrangements. Others put mild spins on the familiar renditions without threatening to displace the supremacy of Lightfoot's interpretations. But it's tastefully done, without any unnecessarily lush overhauls or particularly gratuitous liberties taken with the compositions. And certainly many of Lightfoot's most celebrated songs come in for tribute here, including "The Way I Feel" (Cowboy Junkies), "Sundown" (Winchester), "Ribbon of Darkness" (Cockburn), "If You Could Read My Mind" (Connie Kaldor), "For Lovin' Me" (Terry Tufts), "Black Day in July" (the Tragically Hip), and "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" (James Keelaghan). Blue Rodeo's sprightly "Go Go Round," Cowboy Junkies' "The Way I Feel," and Cockburn's slow, languorous take on "Ribbon of Darkness" are the readings that come off best.

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