Highlights and Lowlights
The Trishas', for example - an exceptionally talented troupe clearly influenced by Clark's songwriting - somehow missed the mark on "She Ain't Going Nowhere". It's too pretty, too polished. Their performance brings to light a certain jadedness inherent in Clark's music - a quality it's difficult to embody when your voice is so beautifully fashioned. It doesn't mean they're incapable of an enviable level of musicality - it's simply a different set of skills one needs to fill Clark's shoes. Ron Sexsmith's "Broken Hearted People" and Shawn Camp's "Homeless" both miss a certain swing. Sandwiched as they are between Shawn Colvin's and Rosanne Cash's recordings, those two tunes feel a little overshadowed and skippable. Again, here's an unquestionably gifted artist whose skills lie in a different box from those of Guy Clark.
On the other hand, Willie Nelson's turn on "Desperados Waitin' for a Train" (purchase/download) is perfectly delivered as is Lyle Lovett's "Anyhow I Love You" (purchase/download). Both these artists sing their selections like, if they weren't singing, they'd be crying. The song is a release, a declaration. The same comes across with Rosanne Cash on "Better Days" and Shawn Colvin's "All He Wants Is You".
The Bottom Line
But, as its own statement of musical prowess, the collection falls short of greatness. Each individual track on its own is wonderfully performed, but the double-album is lacking in complete cohesion. It feels instead more like placing a bunch of artists on "random play." Granted, they're the best artists in the business - from Hayes Carll to Patty Griffin to Vince Gill and Kris Kristofferson. In the end, though, fans would be as well served by picking and choosing tracks by their favorite artists and downloading them one at a time, rather than springing for the entire album all at once.