Various Artists: Acoustic Cafe (Putumayo)

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Brown Bird: Danger and Dread
Various Artists: Acoustic Cafe (Putumayo)

Although many compilations on the Putumayo label are indifferent or perhaps of little interest to Elsewhere (the kids songs from around the world etc), this one leaps out . . . but not so much as to give you a fright.

This low-key collection of 11 acoustic tracks serves as fine introduction to many of the artists while also providing a coherent and interesting album in its own right.

Here are Elsewhere favourite Harry Manx (with his distinctive take on Van Morrison's Crazy Love), banjo/mandolin player Sarah Jarosz (Dylan's Ring Them Bells, with Vince Gill) and the Sweet Remains (an alt.country take on Crosby Still and Nash's Dance With Me).

It isn't all covers: the duo of David Lamb and Morgan Eve Swain (as Brown Bird) out of Rhode Island connect with Tom Waits' European cabaret/sea shanty style on Danger and Dread;  Justin Townes Earle's One More Night in Brooklyn (from his fine Harlem River Blues album) is here; so are the Waifs; and you'll probably want to hear from Brooklyn clinical psychologist-turned-folkie Lucy Kaplansky (who sounds like a big city-burned Joni Mitchell); the deeply literate Gregory Alan Isakov; alt.folkers Fences out out Seattle . . .

Good stand-alone collection and -- with biographical liner notes and pointers to albums -- a useful starting point into these artists.

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