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    Album Review | Singer-Songwriter

    Various Artists, ‘Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake’

    A prophet of tristesse, Nick Drake went unappreciated in his day. After meager record sales, he died of an apparent suicide in 1974 in his native England. His poetic folk-rock songs have been rediscovered via TV ads and soundtracks and should receive a further boost from this tribute compiled by his original producer, Joe Boyd. Drake purists might question some arrangements ­— Boyd sweetens certain tracks with more strings and jazz/world music flourishes by Bangladeshi pianist Zoe Rahman — but he still has Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson, who recorded with Drake. What makes this a must-listen is the variety and passion of the singers. Boyd took a core band on the road and recorded shows with singers in Britain, Italy, and Australia. Robyn Hitchcock, Teddy Thompson, and Scritti Politti's Green Gartside might be the best known, but the real surprises are Damien Rice’s vocal partner, Lisa Hannigan (a mystical “Black Eyed Dog’’), and Aussie duo Luluc (a spectacularly desperate “Fly’’). Drake's intricate guitar parts are played celestially by Neill MacColl, son of British folk great Ewan MacColl. They all take some liberties with the music, but Drake's lonely outcast vibe is well-preserved. (Out Tuesday)


    Essential “Fly’’