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VARIOUS God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson

Eclectic singer-songwriters come together to honour a blues forebear.

If 11 songs seem an insufficient tribute to the man who imbued the slide guitar with the reverence of gospel and the transcendent worldliness of blues, consider that Willie Johnson recorded only 30 tunes during his too-brief life.

This all-star collection would be worth hearing if only because it contains the first new recordings in ages from Tom Waits (his raucous Soul Of A Man and clanging John The Revelator are highlights), but when you add brilliant artist-to-song pairings such as The Blind Boys Of Alabama’s stately Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time, Tedeschi/Trucks’ rough-hewn Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning and Lucinda Williams’ blissful title track, it becomes essential.

Above all, this set of covers avoids taking the easy road. Who could have predicted that Sinéad O’Connor would turn in a convincing version of Trouble Will Soon Be Over or that Rickie Lee Jones’ impressionistic Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground would be so heart-wrenching?