Dark Was the Night
The Red Hot Organization has been raising money and awareness for AIDS/HIV relief since 1989 with compilations like 1990's Red Hot and Blue and 1993's No Alternative; Dark Was the Night marks its 20th release. Following an alchemic collaboration by Dirty Projectors and David Byrne, the Books and Jose Gonzales unveil a gorgeous version of Nick Drake's "Cello Song" that blends big wooden cello tones with soft, sequenced beats. Feist's angelic voice raises the bar high as she and Ben Gibbard give Vashti Bunyan's "Train Song" some otherworldly harmonies. Kronos Quartet's antiquated-sounding title track utilizes old-timey production in an earnest homage to Blind Willie Johnson. Likewise, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings don't stray too far from Shuggie Otis' original recipe on the soulfully mellow "Inspiration Information." Even Cat Power gets rootsy with Dirty Delta Blues on a southern steeped take of "Amazing Grace." But not all that glitters is old. Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch bequeath a beautiful rendition of Bright Eyes' "Lua" from 2004's I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.