Top positive review
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Great Songs, Mixed Performances 4 1/2*s
on October 10, 2014
I was disappointed when this was released solely as sheet music,
I am glad it has come out recorded, albeit by "various artists".
There seems to be almost two albums worth of music here with
two distinct themes--relationship songs and more irreverent takes
on social issues. The relationship songs seem to be the weakest
and a few of those performances are cloying--the cuts by Moses
Sumney, Fun, Sparks and Juanes are all unlistenable to my tastes.
The better relationship songs are performed by Jarvis Cocker, Norah
Jones and Laura Marling. The non-relationship songs seem to have
more of the bite expected when listening to Beck--Jason Isbell's take
on "Now That Your Dollar Bills..." is one of the highlights of the album
with it's blistering guitars and in your face lyrics. America, Here's My Boy
and Do We? We Do-- are both folk protest songs that are brilliant and
brilliantly interpreted. There are also what seem to be some Bertold
Brecht and Kurt Weill style tunes here, We All Wear Cloaks sung
by Jack Black (I can't stand him as an actor but have to admit to liking
his performance here) and Old Shanghai sung by Eleanor Friedberger.
Also a couple of instrumentals that show Becks knowledge of old-timey
Beck has been known to scrap whole albums and most of his recent albums
seem to be groups of songs that all are in the same mode, here he shows
his range from almost Waitsian wordplay in songs like Rough On Rats to
folk anthems to Klezmer, why does he not mix it up more on his albums
like he used to--or on this one? It would be interesting to hear him perform
these songs, I am still waiting for the Rock & Roll album he said he was
working on before the dismal Modern Guilt album was released.
4 1/2 stars for this mixed bag.