By Various Artists
Love Music Leeds is an offshoot of the annual Love Leeds Arts Festival, set up with the aim of removing the stigma surrounding mental illness and promoting the role of music in the recovery process. As a means of raising funds they release an annual album of songs nominated by members of the public that have in some way helped them through difficult times that are then covered by local musicians.
This is undoubtedly a noble cause and the album would be worth buying even if it contained nothing but 40 minutes of tape hiss but the question is, is the album also musically worthwhile? Fortunately the answer is a resounding yes.
Grant K. Fennell's radical reworking of The Ramones' Something To Believe In kicks of proceedings in impressive fashion, with its soothing, melodic indie flavours and quasi-gospel outro. Ryan and Chelsea from The Coopers take on The New Radicals' You Get What You Give giving it a stripped back folk duo feel. Chelsea's Australian twang gives the song a different, distinct character before Ryan joins her on the rousing conclusion. Jasmine Kennedy essays Deacon Blues' Dignity, giving the song a lilting, woozy quality with her rich, husky vocal (reminiscent of Tracy Chapman) elevating the song above the ordinary.
Sim Walker and Becky Holt transform Bonnie Raitt's I Can't Make You Love Me into a 'dark night of the soul' torch song, which occasionally strays towards power ballad territory but always pulls back from the abyss. Cry Baby Cry give Titanium a guitar rock overhaul that is dominated by Rosie Doonan's astonishingly powerful vocals. King Kool's version of I Wanna Be Your Dog doesn't diverge much from the original but still offers a rock energy but it could do with a touch more punk attitude.
Harry George Johns offers a delicate interpretation of Rival Schools' Good Things that occasionally erupts into distorted noise but it is his ragged, emotionally raw vocal that makes the song. But perhaps the pick of the album is Hunting Bear's beautifully ethereal take on Sigur Ros' Staralfur, which features some of the most sublime harmonies you will here anywhere. The song washes over you like gentle lapping waves but packs the emotional wallop of a tsunami. New Zealander Bruno Merz brings the album to a close with a nice but slightly mannered version of Biffy Clyro's Machines.
The album can be purchased via the Love Music Leeds website, where you can also read about upcoming releases.