I must admit that my knowledge of Graham Nash’s solo career was virtually non-existent until the release of that box set and reissue of “Songs For Beginners” a couple of years back. I can’t pretend that I’ve subsequently investigated much further, in spite of the allure of the coat of questions and the answer hat, and your helpful suggestions on the “Song For Beginners” blog.

I must admit that my knowledge of Graham Nash’s solo career was virtually non-existent until the release of that box set and reissue of “Songs For Beginners” a couple of years back. I can’t pretend that I’ve subsequently investigated much further, in spite of the allure of the coat of questions and the answer hat, and your helpful suggestions on the “Song For Beginners” blog.

The arrival of “Be Yourself”, however, has reminded me that I need to put some good intentions into action. “Be Yourself” is a tribute album to “Songs For Beginners”, with the 11 songs covered by various indie-folk illluminati including Robin Pecknold, Will Oldham, Alela Diane and so on.

It’s not, I have to say, one of those compilations that make you rethink the nature and substance of the original. For the most part, the contributions amount to little more than mildly indiefied versions – Sleepy Sun, the one actual rock band in the lineup, stay psychedelically restrained for a purposeful chug through “Chicago”. Without checking the Nash takes, Brendan Benson’s “Better Days” and Vetiver’s “Used To Be A King” sound more or less uncannily faithful.

Essentially, then, we’re left with a nice comp that primarily acts as a reminder of the gentle songwriterly marvels of “Songs For Beginners”. These are songs that are so strong that reasonably respectful artists have their work cut out spoiling them (though Port O’Brien and Papercuts’ weedy joint assault on “Military Madness”. Only Will Oldham, perhaps predictably, manages something relatively subversive, if performing “Simple Man” as “Hombre Sencillo”, in Spanish, could be considered subversive.

It does, though, provide a fresh spin. Other highlights would probably be Robin Pecknold’s characteristically lovely, spectral take on “Be Yourself” (in much the same vein as that Judee Sill cover he used to dust down on Fleet Foxes tours); and Joanna Newsom comrades the Moore Brothers, who do their unsteady Everlys thing to “Man In The Mirror”.

But out of this generally engaging set, I think there’s one real keeper, Alela Diane’s “There’s Only One”. Nothing radical here again, as the acoustic guitar, nimble lap steel and soft harmonies provide the soundbed. But it’s her voice that’s so striking, radiating a confidence and calm strength that seems to increase every time she enters a studio. While most of the contributors have a certain fragility to their tone, as if in deference to Nash’s own reediness, Diane provides a different, earth-rooted gravity, which really stands out. Intriguing, I think, after her spot on the Blitzen Trapper record, to hear where she heads next.