Various Through the Wilderness: A Tribute to Madonna

Throughout Madonna’s career, she’s embraced a wide range of sounds and styles: pop, dance, disco, techno and, soon enough, hip-hop. Yet folk has never really been on the list, especially not the modern day freak variety. For this reason, Through the Wilderness: A Tribute to Madonna is a strange one. The 15-track disc — from which 25 percent of the proceeds go to Madonna’s HIV/AIDS charity, Raising Malawi — finds artists such as Devendra Banhart’s Mountain Party, Lavender Diamond and Ariel Pink covering Madge classics like "Material Girl,” "Like a Prayer” and "Everybody,” respectively. And even stranger is that, for the most part, these folk-y flower children actually pull it off, making these tracks their own, with an entertaining mix of goofy synth lines, sitars, tablas and acoustic guitar strums. Like all multi-artist ventures though, Through the Wilderness has some definite low points, like Giant Drag’s dragging rendition of "Oh Father” and the Prayers’ by-the-numbers take on "Cherish.” Unevenness aside, this tribute does make for a fun listen, whether you’re a fan of the Material Girl or not. (Manimal Vinyl)