Christopher O’Riley

Second Grace: The Music Of Nick Drake

[2.5/5] Christopher O’Riley, who’s released piano tribute albums to Radiohead and the late Elliott Smith, knows something about the difficulties of adapting an enigmatic artist’s work. But Nick Drake, a British folksinger barely known during his brief life, has remained inscrutable since his 1974 death, even as cult fandom has blossomed into authentic fame. O’Riley does what he can to illuminate Drake’s tunes, plucking less obvious choices from his slim back catalog and playing them with Impressionistic restraint. He caresses Drake’s more straightforward melodies like “Fly” and “Northern Sky,” taking a cocktail jazz approach, and he more boldly explores the modalities of the droning “Three Hours.” In the end, Drake’s essence remains far too elusive; without his words, his oil-pastel guitar and his haunted presence, these songs are graceful, but not quite gripping. (WORLD VILLAGE) Dan LeRoy