Album Review: Way To Blue - The Songs of Nick Drake

Recorded at live shows in London, 2010 and in Melbourne in 2011, 'Way To Blue' captures the magical performances and reinterpretations of timeless Nick Drake tunes by an array of talented musicians such as Lisa Hannigan, Teddy Thompson and Vashti Bunyan. 

There's a lovely apt quote from the producer of 'Way To Blue' Joe Boyd stating: 
          “Every week, somewhere in the world, singers gather in clubs and halls to sing the songs of Nick Drake. It is sobering to think that more people now hear his songs in a month than ever heard them in his lifetime.” – Joe Boyd
In a sentence this sums up the objective of 'Way To Blue'  which is to reach out to new audiences and spread the word about Nick's amazing talent that left this world far too soon. 

In the introduction I used the word 'reinterpretation' when describing the tracks on 'Way To Blue'. In the main the new arrangements suit the guest singer but there are a few tracks which didn't work for me.

The tracks to impress include Scott Matthews take on 'Place To Be', the wonderful orchestral arrangement for Vashti Bunyan's take on one of my favourite Nick Drake songs; 'Which Will' and this version of 'River Man' by Teddy Thompson.

Other tracks worthy of praise include Lisa Hannigan's wild take on 'Black Eyed Dog' as well as the Lisa Hannigan, Luluc duet for Saturday Sun. I also really enjoyed the Instrumental take of the track 'One Of Those Things First' by Danny Thompson and Zoe Rahman which proves what a great composer NIck Drake was. 

The tracks from Australian singer-songwriter Shane Nicholson were a let down while Krystle Warren's voice didn't suit the tracks either and for me didn't work. I was also let down by the choice of Nick Drake songs chosen for the album. My favourite track from Nick Drake 'Northern Sky' didn't make the cut while the song from Nick Drake I've heard most in films and on TV; 'Cello Song' also didn't make the album.

'Way To Blue' is bound to be enjoyed by those already converted to the brilliance of Nick Drake. Will it entice new fans to check out Nick's three albums? I'm not so sure but 'Way to Blue' released officially in April keeps people like me writing about great songs like 'River Man', 'Which Will' and 'Pink Moon'.

Way To Blue - The Songs of Nick Drake [9 out of 12]

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Way to Blue tracklisting:

01. Luluc, “Things Behind the Sun”
02. Scott Matthews, “Place to Be”
03. Green Gartside, “Fruit Tree”
04. Shane Nicholson, “Poor Boy”
05. Krystle Warren, “Time Has Told Me”
06. Robyn Hitchcock, “Parasite”
07. Danny Thompson & Zoe Rahman, “One of These Things First”
08. Vashti Bunyan, “Which Will”
09. Lisa Hannigan, “Black-Eyed Dog”
10. Shane Nicholson, “Rider on the Wheel”
11. Teddy Thompson, “River Man”
12. Luluc & Lisa Hannigan, “Saturday Sun”
13. Scott Matthews, “When the Day Is Done”
14. Luluc, “Fly”
15. Teddy Thompson & Krystle Warren, “Pink Moon”