We at Cover Me get excited when a musician finds a genre twist that transforms a cover song’s meaning. Previously, we mentioned Laurence Collyer as the one-man-band member of The Diamond Family Archive who excels in doing just that. This Brighton-based musician takes generally upbeat pop songs and twists them into sad and lonely little folk and acoustic numbers. In his latest set, Collyer was kind enough to indulge us with an exclusive EP of outtakes from his brilliant 2009 cover album, The Wanderer. Some are alternative performances of album tracks; others are never-before-heard covers.
We had a chance to ask Collyer why cover songs appeal to him and what motivated him to make his covers album, The Wanderer. He says: “I was trying to free myself up from playing my own songs. I found that constant performances of my own material at that time quite upsetting. I suffer from depression and this only exacerbated it. I was writing about a particular incident over and over again and was not progressing in getting over it. I made a pact with myself to play only covers for a year as a way of stopping myself obsessing over one thing and to give time in which to look at other subjects.
“Singing covers gives you an opportunity to use and explore words and phrases that you wouldn’t normally use. I like hair metal bands like Bon Jovi and Whitesnake for their terrible lyrics and people like Billy Joel for his mawkish sentiment. A change of pace and inflection renders them beautiful, I believe. For this reason I removed the words from their original melody and arrangement. I hoped it would make them feel like remembered songs. Familiar but just out of reach.”
Collyer seems to have a knack for the just-out-of-reach. While he used cover songs to get himself out of depression, his arrangements still touch on issues of rejection and loss, even when using a cheese line like “Chains of love got a hold on me, when passion’s a prison you can’t break free” from “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Bon Jovi sang the song with stadium-rousing anger, but Collyer sings with quiet resignation. With this and other cover choices, he breathes new life into old songs by lending his raw emotion.
The Wanderer Outtakes [Cover Me Premiere]