Townes Van Zandt Sky Blue
Published Mar 05, 2019Recorded over a few informal sessions in early 1973 by his close pal Bill Hedgepeth, this collection of performances is rough, rugged and for completists only. Though few music critics would ever steer listeners away from country-folk lodestar Townes Van Zandt's indelible work from the early '70s, it's tough to make a case for why one needs to hear these shaggy dog recordings.
Better performances of all of the familiar songs exist elsewhere, and the few "new" tracks here are hardly revelations. If this were the only thing you had ever heard by Townes Van Zandt, you'd be blown away. But everyone else will likely find this to be pleasant, yet inessential.
The most exciting thing here for fans is the inclusion of two never-before-heard compositions: "Sky Blue" and "All I Need." Although neither of them sounds complete — indeed, much of what appears on this collection are early drafts — they are welcome additions to Van Zandt's extended oeuvre. The rest of the collection features early takes on eventual classics like "Rex's Blues" and "Pancho & Lefty," as well as several covers of popular folk tunes by Tom Paxton, Tony Rice and Richard Dobson.
It's all good, but none of it is great. Still, if this is merely the first taste of an eventual vault series of releases from Townes Van Zandt's musical archive, it's more than enough to make us hunger for more. (Fat Possum)