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Various Artists

Yeah, we all know that most comps suck, especially the ones that are nothing but covers. Though a few great ones exist (I'm thinkin' 'bout that Neil Young tribute, The Bridge, and that Tom T. Hall one), usually, on these affairs, bands either play it too safe and perform a song note-for-note, or they feel like they gotta deconstruct it and fuck it up good.

"Our favorite artists cover their favorite love songs" is the sub-sub-heading of this CD, a tag that almost assures suckdom right off the bat. But a few artists here make completely unexpected choices that redeem the album.

Fans of the classic Steve Martin comedy The Jerk will be most pleased to get their hands on the included version of that film's "Tonight You Belong to Me," lovingly recorded here in an inspired version by Josh Ritter and Blake Hazard. Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori renders Madonna's "Crazy for You" virtually unrecognizable as a breezy slice of psuedo-Burt Bacharach. Iron and Wine takes on the minute-and-a-half long weeper "Ab's Song," originally done by the Marshall Tucker Band. Laugh all you want, but the original is sweet as moist cake, and the version here is the rare cover that improves on its template.

It's not all Iron and Wine and roses, though. While there's nothing truly crummy here, a few tracks, like Aimee Mann's "What the World Needs Now," Kathleen Edwards' take on Tom Petty's "A Face in the Crowd" and especially Rosie Thomas' version of John Lennon's "Love," come across as rather superfluous, adding little to the overriding concept.

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