One of the most moving tracks on Arcade Fire’s brilliant debut album Funeral is “Haiti,” Régine Chassagne’s poignant account of the hardships suffered by her Haitian family during the regime of François Duvalier. The intensely emotional and personal subject matter makes “Haiti” one of the less frequently covered tracks from Funeral. In spite of this challenge, Canadian folk duo Goose Lake bravely took it on and released it as a bonus download for their latest EP, Lakeheart.
On Funeral, “Haiti” is striking because Arcade Fire creates such a surprising contrast between lush island beats and Chassagne’s haunting vocals. Goose Lake matches content and sound more closely, choosing a subdued folk arrangement. The vocals, almost monotone until the final minute of the track, add an eerie vibe that creates the biggest difference between the original and Goose Lake’s cover. The vocals, however, are also the weak link in the track. Though they’re technically correct and well-matched to the instrumentals, they lack the emotional resonance of Chassagne’s contribution; her personal connection to the story within the song gives “Haiti” its soul.