Various Artists

Sculpting from Drake, Vol. 1

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It's not a simple task to take one of the 20th century's most important songwriters and compile a tribute album in his honor. Nick Drake, with such a distinct voice that so few can imitate, became more of an icon in the late '90s -- having found a 25-year overnight success with a Volkswagen partnership -- than he ever was in the '60s. This disc in no way honors Drake's late-found popularity, but rather his inimitable voice and songwriting talent and how it shaped many members of the indie rock community. Here, Elsie and Jack Recordings have taken a much different approach compared to the traditional singer/songwriter tribute by employing the efforts of a number of Michigan's space rock elite, among them Warn Defever of His Name Is Alive, Au Revoir Borealis, and Flashpapr. Generally, the recordings are very much what one would expect considering most of the artists involved. The songs sound gorgeously spacious, as vocals and guitar work swell to their fullest extent, accentuating the most beautiful elements of any of Nick Drake's original records. Defever's take on "Which Will" sounds particularly homegrown, like his many solo recordings that are rather under-produced and are made to sound as though they were recorded in the earlier half of the century. And Drekka's cover of "Know" is a near-eight-minute controlled mess of esoteric acoustic guitar experiment which is by far the least Drakeish of these renditions, but one of the most interesting. Sculpting From Drake, Vol. 1 is a brilliant dedication to one of the genre's masters. One can only wonder what took them so long.

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