Various Artists

Sweet Relief, Vol. 3: Pennies from Heaven

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The third in a series of records benefiting the Sweet Relief Foundation -- a charity that provides health-related assistance to musicians in need -- Pennies from Heaven doesn't pay tribute to a specific artist, the way that the Victoria Williams-devoted first set did, or how the second consisted of nothing but covers of Vic Chesnutt. Both Williams and Chesnutt were musicians in need and this time, the ailing musician is behind the scenes: producer Sheldon Gomberg suffers from multiple sclerosis. Gomberg produces a variety of adult alternative artists singing sweet, tasteful covers of their favorite songs. Some, like Ron Sexsmith and Sam Phillips, choose old standards, while others -- like Rickie Lee Jones, GeneviƩve Toupin, and Tina Schlieske -- opt for the classic rock songbook, but it's all tied together by gentle, unhurried arrangements and a soft touch. Sometimes, the feel is slightly too transparent -- in the hands of She & Him, "King of the Road" turns sugary -- but everything is pleasant and sweet, the kind of record that soothes for a good cause.

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