Once upon a time — OK, a year and a half ago —
Instead, the disc contains interpretations, by the likes of Norah Jones, Jacks White and Black, and veteran art-pop oddballs Sparks, of songs with no definitive versions off the printed page — which makes Juanes’s Spanish-language “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” obliquely, hilariously perverse. Many of the contributors give the material a rootsy, rattletrap approach, creating a flat consistency that drags a bit.
It’s not until the second half that “Beck Song Reader” comes fitfully to life with the woozy, Waits-y stumble David Johansen brings to “Rough on Rats,” Jason Isbell’s raucous “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings,” and Jack Black’s theatrically impish “We All Wear Cloaks.” And Swamp Dogg’s “America, Here’s My Boy” is a primal lament laced with quiet rage. Of course, this is just one iteration of how these songs might go; countless more are waiting to be made. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “America, Here’s My Boy”Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com.