August 02, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation

Current Status
In Season
Various Artists
We gave it a B

Soul Asylum, R.E.M., and the Smashing Pumpkins (with Red Red Meat) are just a few of the performers who appear on Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation/The Songs of Vic Chesnutt, benefiting fellow musicians facing medical hardships. Holding everything together are the music and lyrics of Chesnutt: Plain and unsentimental, his songs provide strong material for the diverse performers. The women, in particular, rise to the occasion: Nanci Griffith, backed by a surprisingly supple Hootie & the Blowfish, captures the ache of the title track, while Kristen Hersh, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Indigo Girls, and even Madonna (duetting with brother-in-law Joe Henry) are equally affecting. B

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