Various Artists

Troubadours: The Essential Album

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This two-CD collection features an interesting blend of singer/songwriters from Sun Records through the British folk era and ending up with the folk-techno artists of the 21st century. The artists selected seem a bit ragged (Mike Nesmith into Johnny Cash into Aaron Neville), but all of the cuts are winners. Expected troubadours Nick Drake, Ralph McTell, John Prine, and Jim Croce sidle alongside Dan Bern, Alejandro Escovido, and Billy Bragg, and although the jumps from one style to the next can be a little jarring, the theme running throughout serves as a good overview of blissfully melancholy storytelling from the last 50 years.

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