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Various Artists

Dreamer A Tribute to Kent Finlay – 2016 (Eight 30)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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As a companion piece to the book "Kent Finlay, Dreamer," the touching musical memoir co-authored by Jenni Finlay, "Dreamer: A Tribute To Kent Finlay" brings the music he made front and center. Jenni's father's played an essential role in launching the careers of countless musicians over the course of more than four decades, and the 16 or so artists who contribute to this album were all clearly impacted by his love of music and the enduring impact left on all who knew him.

Recorded in the wake of Finlay's passing in 2015 at 77, each pays tribute with a song specifically recorded for the occasion, the threadbare arrangements and mournful vocals evoking the emotional weight of their loss, as well as the inspiration and gratitude each of them felt for this remarkable man.

Many songs seem to be first time performances, most of them written by Finlay himself and bequeathed to the individual artists involved. And yet while somber emotions lie at the core of each of these performances, there's also humor and wisdom lurking in the shadows. Steve Poltz's "The Plight of the Bumblebee" typifies the former, while "Be Nice To 'Em Son" finds Adam Carroll's relaying Finlay's wise, well worn advice to those working their way up. Other names of note include Terri Hendrix, James McMurtry, Owen Temple and Slaid Cleaves, but it's Finlay's pervasive presence that envelopes these proceedings and provides a final, furtive bond.

It's obvious that Kent Finlay was a mentor to all those who knew him, and his dreams continue through the music that's still being made by all those he touched. Jenni herself deserves special credit for her tireless promotion of various influential Americana artists, all of whom take their cue from her father's devotion and dedication. A touching and tender collection, "Dreamer: A Tribute To Kent Finlay" is all that and quite a bit more.