5) “Make You Feel My Love” – Neil Diamond
Album: Home After Dark [Deluxe Edition]
In his recent collaborations with producer Rick Rubin, the Solitary Man has boldly tapped back into the dark consciousness that inhabits his most resonant works. It’s with comparable sentience that Diamond enriches this modern Bob Dylan classic, his intimate and somber expression poignantly suiting the directness of the lyrics.
4) “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)” – Lucinda Williams
Album: Little Honey
Ornery and defiant, Williams manhandles this AC/DC rocker into a mantra, serving as much as an affirmation of her life as her art. An incidental note to all aspiring artists: If your idea of paying dues is to camp out on the pavement before your American Idol audition, turn this track up loud and let Ms. Williams put you wise.
3) “Aretha, Sing One For Me” – Cat Power
On this obscure gem by singer/songwriter George Jackson, Cat Power stretches out the groove, sinking deep into the song’s yearning plea for some end-of-romance solace. The Queen of Soul has seldom received a more forsaken request.
2) “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” – Soweto Gospel Choir
Album: In The Name Of Love – Africa Celebrates U2
A standout performance among an album of exceptional music, U2’s anthemic homage to MLK assumes an altogether distinct and urgent resonance here. Rich with indigenous expression and rhythms, the Soweto Gospel Choir enliven the song with the resolve, hope, and triumphant spirit of its native land and, in so doing, make an inspiring statement.
1) “Time” – Heidi Talbot
Album: In Love And Light
In a flawless marriage of songwriting brilliance and vocal elegance, Irish songstress Heidi Talbot summons a stunning rendition of this Tom Waits masterpiece, drawing out subtleties within the narrative through her delicate phrasings and inflections. It’s this kind of performance that makes songwriters want to slave over a piano or guitar in the pursuits of their craft.