Various Artists – Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill

January 01, 1970

(American Dust)


Though barely known, even in her brief lifetime, Judee Sill
remains one of contemporary music’s more tragic stories, not only due to her
lack of wider acclaim, but more significantly, due to the series of sad
circumstances that impacted her practically since birth. Raised by a
dysfunctional family, she lost both her father and her brother at an early age and
later succumbed to heroin, a habitual struggle that snared her early on.  However the potential shown by her two albums
for the fledgling Asylum Records label demonstrated that the possibility for
fame always lingered just beyond her grasp. 
A singer/songwriter of comparable ilk to Joni Mitchell, Carole King and
Laura Nyro, she left behind a concise body of work that still remains cherished
by her devotees.


Nevertheless, in the three decades since her passing, little
light has been shed on her material, and while an occasional cover has managed
to surface on occasion, her catalogue has mostly hovered far from the mainstream.  Its significant then that Crayon Angel should attempt to bring new
attention to Sill’s music, being it’s so perfectly cast in comparison to
today’s low-gazing neo-folkie types.  The
lack of mainly big name participants – the exceptions being Beth Orton, Ron
Sexsmith and Bill Callahan – serves the purpose especially well; Sill’s songs,
daringly intimate and crafted with such sensitivity, maintain their lilt and
sway via humble treatments that don’t bow to ego and over fastidious
arrangements.  Consequently, the best
material – “Jesus Was a Cross Maker,” “Lady-O,” “There’s a Rugged Road,” the
title track – mostly reflects the quiet reserve with which they were originally
conceived.  Consequently, any musical
liberties in the way of atmospheric embellishment are taken only on rare
occasion.  Think Leonard Cohen or Nick
Cave for comparison purposes.  So whether
or not Crayon Angel initiates renewed
interest in Sill’s work remains to be seen, the loving devotion displayed
herein speaks for itself.


Standout Tracks: “Jesus Was a Cross Maker” (Frida
Hyvönen), “Lady-O” (Trembling
Blue Stars), “Crayon Angel” (Ron Sexsmith) LEE ZIMMERMAN





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