The term “musician’s musician” may be a tad overused, but it’s fitting for the late Hardin, whose work has always been celebrated more by other performers than the broader public. Such diverse names as Johnny Cash, The Four Tops, Paul Weller, Scott Walker and Echo & The Bunnymen have all covered his songs and, if you count Reason To Believe as a double A-side with Maggie May, he has a worldwide chart-topper to his name courtesy of Rod Stewart.
That most famous of his songs is tackled here by Brit alt.folkies The Sand Band, so it’s clear this tribute album isn’t awash with high-profile A-listers like those mentioned above. Not that that’s a bad thing, as every act answering the call here still approaches their task with reverence and affection. Mark Lanegan brings earthy yearning to Red Balloon, Okkervill River add delicately ambient brush strokes to It’ll Never Happen Again and Smoke Fairies turn If I Were A Carpenter into a sinister swamp blues.
Full Time Hobby, the label that also put together 2006’s Dream Brother, a collection of Tim and Jeff Buckley covers, admirably give their contributors a free rein and the opportunity to stamp their own identity on the material. At one end of the spectrum that means Snorri Helgason is sparsely faithful to the gentle Misty Roses, while The Phoenix Foundation imbue Don’t Make Promises with post-psych otherworldliness.