Following the suicide of a classmate, the students of Dublin's Sound Training Centre have taken it upon themselves to raise as much as possible for Aware, Ireland's leading charity providing support to those suffering from depression. From charity gigs to the production of an entire album, the students of STC have succeeded in enlisting some of the country's best, high profile musicians for 'Sparks n' Mind.'
Bell X1 contribute a touching acoustic take on Springsteen's 'No Retreat, No Surrender', while Lisa Hannigan delivers one of the album's highlights with her aching rendition of Nick Drake's 'Courting Blues', delicately doused in sorrowful strings. Damien Dempsey completely owns 'The Hackler From Grouse Hall,' the traditional tune made famous by Christy Moore, though perhaps that's because it already featured on his 2008 album 'The Rocky Road.' Even the decidedly unappealing Mick Pyro, frontman of Republic of Loose, suddenly sounds slick and cool with his interpretation of Blind Willie Johnson's blues number 'God Moves On The Water.'
Probably, the greatest achievement of 'Sparks n' Mind,' is it's subtle yet well thought out theme. These eleven 'Songs that Inspire' are each different, individual, never restricted, and appealing to a wide range of music lovers, not merely the obvious market.
Sure, it has it's low points, Cowboy X's cover of The Pixies' 'Gigantic' and Dirty Epics version of Portishead's 'Glory Box' barely deviate from the originals enough to be worth anyone's while, but they're still perfectly respectable performances of excellent songs. 'Sparks n' Mind' may not change the world, but it's a fitting tribute, and as charity cover albums go, it's definitely one of the better ones around.