Amanda Palmer has referred to herself as a “girl anachronism.” Nowhere is this more brilliantly displayed than in the trajectory of her prolific career, which more strongly resembles the chanteuses of days gone by than any of her contemporaries. Her output is nearly as steady as Ryan Adams, except that one need not dig around the Palmer catalog for the diamonds in the rough. Palmer proves decisive and deliberate, even while she is spontaneous. She has little regard for what is common or expected, whether in her solo work or with the Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn. And, clearly, she loves covers and does a fine job of them, having released an album of ukulele-only Radiohead covers last year. This approach has always paid off for the listeners because she’s a music lover herself. Each piano keystroke or ukulele chord or belted chorus is a love letter to anyone who hears it and to the music itself.
Cover Me is pleased to premiere yet another of those love letters today. The godmother of “Brechtian Punk Cabaret” does not try to reinvent the wheel with her cover of “The Ship Song” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which is to be released on upcoming album Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under. She is singing Nick Cave’s song and she is loving Nick Cave’s song and it is precisely this that makes it Amanda Palmer’s song after all.
What’s more, she makes it look easy: simultaneously giving us both a stripped piano cover walking in the footsteps Cave left on the track, and a piece that is distinctively Palmer, dancing in every bootprint. In this live recording, her voice rips through the music hall, yet she still maintains the subdued poise of the piece. The crowd is silent from the second it starts and then exploding the moment it finishes.