When we came across Bent Knee’s cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” in May, a few things were clear immediately. The first was the sheer power and intensity of Courtney Swain’s voice; the second was that the band doesn’t treat their source material as source material per se. They don’t look at the night sky and set out to paint it with detail and precision and accuracy; they look at the sky and give us Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” It nods at the original, but becomes something else entirely.
Their recent cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” serves only to reinforce these impressions. From the very start, they deliver something new, yet grounded. The bluesy guitar of the original is replaced with a lilting piano that hints at jazz without ever throwing the change or cleverness in the listener’s face. When Swain’s voice kicks in, the song feels something like an unexpected Norah Jones cover until just before the halfway mark when she gives us a wail with the feel of a kettle just getting ready to boil over. That’s when everything comes out and the band gives us more than just their sheer talent and the beauty of the music they can make; they unleash themselves on the song, unleash their own style, and show us precisely how vast their bag of tricks is.