Various I Am the Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey

If ever there were a singular spiritual entity in recorded music, it’s John Fahey, a man who practically redefined what playing the acoustic six-string guitar meant all by his lonesome. Fahey’s gift for precision and articulation within his complex compositions remains unsurpassed to this day. Granted, some like Michael Chapman and Leo Kottke come close, and there are many more incredible players emerging these days who hold Fahey in high esteem as an influence (Jack Rose, Harris Newman), but the man simply deserved every ounce of his mysterious, almost godlike reputation. With the continuing rise of interest in primitive and folk-based sounds these days, it couldn’t be a better time for M. Ward to have produced this tribute. However, anyone expecting to be blown away by it is going to be disappointed. Even though I Am the Resurrection brings together a wide range of talented artists — Sufjan Stevens, Howe Gelb, Pelt, and Cul de Sac, to name a few — the performances only stand as tribute to Fahey, since none of them could even hope to capture the deep essence of musical expression he did so effortlessly. Next to Fahey’s high watermark, many on this collection — Devendra Banhart, Calexico and Currituck Co., for instance — reveal their weaknesses. Those interested in discovering Fahey more deeply should go buy another of his albums instead. (Vanguard)