Townes Van Zandt would have turned 75 years old today. And just when you thought, the mythical singer-songwriter’s footlocker of unreleased recordings had been vacuumed clean, his family goes and discovers an entire album’s worth of material.
Recorded 46 years ago in the home studio of his lifelong friend Bill Hedgepeth, Sky Blue features new, sparse renditions of familiar some songs, as well as two new tunes (“All I Need” and the title track) and a cover of Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind.” The result is a delicate and uncharacteristically carefree session for the troubled troubadour.
In terms of tenderness, intimacy and singing, Sky Blue can easily rank among Townes’ loveliest recordings, much because of how it exemplifies his miraculous poetry, where not a single word is wasted or out of place. This affectionate, early take of “Pancho & Lefty” might even replace other versions as your favorite.
Ryan is a writer, editor and vinyl collector currently based in Los Angeles. He started Mini Music Critic in 2017.