Handcrafted Soul are all over the map. The band name sounds like a Chicago rhythm-and-blues revue. Their press photos look like an Alabama country-western group. Yet their website reveals that they are, in fact, a duo in France, half a world away from either of these places. As their cover selections show, though, they’ve got old-school American music running in their Parisian veins.
We discovered their free covers EP while putting together our weekly Bandcamp post, but decided it deserved its own spotlight. All four tracks shine, but the standout is the deepest cut of all. It’s a cover of an ad jingle from 1927 for Nugrape Soda. Performed by “the Nugrape Boys,” the super-obscure recording can only be found on the American Primitive: Pre-War Revenants 1897-1939, curated by John Fahey (download the original here). In Handcrafted Soul’s hands, this ultra-obscurity becomes a country-rock joy, one you’ll have on quick repeat.
The other three covers don’t lag far behind. The pair first moves up to 1938 on the Cole Porter tune “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” a stomping, clapping, stripteasing hoedown. Then they jump ahead to 1956, on Mickey & Silvia’s “Love Is Strange,” a song later covered by Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley. Finally, we hear their refreshingly lowkey version of the oft-covered “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” both the most recent and the most famous song of the bunch. Download ‘em all below.