Album: Various Artists, Sacred Songs for Worrying Times (Righteous)

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The Independent Culture

A striking anthology of modern faith-based ruminations, some custom-built to fit the compilation's prescient brief, others sourced with impeccable taste from the likes of The Handsome Family ("Grandmother Waits for You") and Slint singer/guitarist Ryan Driver ("When Were You in Mexico").

Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label furnishes three selections, including Liz Janes' version of the Sacred Harp song "32b Distress", a funereal processional of mountain fiddle drone and musical saw, and Welcome Wagon's "But for You Who Fear My Name", which resembles a revivalist congregation blast of banjo, handclaps and Sally Army horns.

David Arnold's "God Won't Save You Now" opens proceedings, its pessimistic message riding a sluggish gospel-funk roll; but for most of its course, the album's guiding spirits are Hank Williams and Tom Waits, the latter's grizzled Americana offering a touchstone for contributions by the likes of Noah and the Whale. Elsewhere, Richard Hawley covers Mother Maybelle Carter, Malcolm Middleton chips in with a reflective cover of Joan Osborne's "One Of Us", and Field Music preface "You're Not Supposed To" with a lovely hummed run through of "Abide With Me".

Download this: 'God Won't Save You Now', 'But For You Who Fear My Name', 'When Were You in Mexico', 'Trampin'', 'Devil Town'