Various Artists | Johnny Boy Would Love This ... A Tribute to John Martyn

Hole In The Rain (2011)
By JIM MACNIE  |  August 10, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

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If Nick Drake was Britain's ultimate forlorn folkie, John Martyn was his jazzier bro, a pub crawler with an intoxicating way of creating richly desolate moods. Martyn's early-'70s blend of romantic blues and eerie valentines remains potent, and on this double-disc tribute, 30 participants give him a smooch of respect, trying to update the hazy passion he brought to his best work. There are several successes. As far as conjuring an ethereal atmosphere goes, the Cure walk through a delicious fog on "Small Hours," and a swaying chant like the Swell Season's "I Don't Want To Know" brings a personalized grace to a Martyn signature piece. The Beck of Sea Change boasts a bit of Martyn's wobbly gravitas as well, so his update of "Stormbringer" makes good sense. Of course with 30 attempts to hit the bull's eye, there are bound to be a few darts in the outer rings. Snow Patrol tilt toward a greeting-card vibe with the anthemic ending of "May You Never." Syd Kitchen takes the originally gossamer "Fine Lines" and puts an overt groove on it: #fail. These guys should know: innuendo is the operative tack with Martyn material; the singer's magic was based on an ephemeral feel. A ghostly track like his "Spencer the Rover" ends, and listeners awake from a dream: did something just happen? Which is perhaps why Johnny Boy's zenith just might be Lisa Hannigan's hurdy-gurdy prayer on "Couldn't Love You More." Turns out all you need to win is two chords and a drone.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CD reviews, compilations
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