Various Artists

More Townes Van Zandt by the Great Unknown

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

This various-artists compilation is the sequel to Introducing Townes Van Zandt Via the Great Unknown. The "great unknown" is somewhat accurate in that it signifies independent artists who covered Van Zandt's songs. Volume one included selections by the Be Good Tanyas, Stephen Duffy with the Lilac Time, Jad Fair, Chris Mills, Treetop Flyers, and the Great Lake Swimmers. This set goes a bit further with Neal Casal, the Sumner Brothers, Leslie & the Badgers (whose reading of "Flyin' Shoes" is one of the highlights found here), and the Band of Annuals (whose take on "For the Sake of the Song" approaches the sadness of Van Zandt's original), to name a few. These low-key, budget versions of Van Zandt's classics -- and more obscure tunes -- are for the most part worthy ones. Alela Diane's "Like a Summer Thursday" is utterly poetic and otherworldly; Phosphorescent's reading of "Why She's Acting This Way," while lengthy at almost six minutes, meanders in a pleasantly labyrinthine reverie of lithe fingerpicked electric guitars, whistles, organ, and a guiding bassline. While purist Van Zandt fans might be tempted to ignore this, it would be their loss; these takes on the late songwriter's work by younger musicians resonate with quiet passion, reverence, and meaning.

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