Covering one of the greatest and most distinctive vocalists of all time is a risky proposition. Many Roy Orbison covers deconstruct the songs so the new singer can tweak the melody, under-sing, or otherwise dodge away from head-to-head comparison with Roy. But on his beautiful new cover of “Blue Bayou,” Michigan’s Shawn Butzin faces the challenge directly. And, against all offs, he nails it.
Butzin brings a country twang to “Blue Bayou,” sounding closer to Roy’s Sun Records roots than the original did. He’s got the expressive voice to sell the melody, crooning over harmonica and subtle backing vocals. It’s a tribute, he says, to another Butzin with a golden voice.
“I wanted to do a Roy Orbison song for my late father,” Butzin says. “I remember as a child, my father and I would go for drives and he’d sing Roy so loud and proud. I have fond memories of my father singing Blue Bayou on the car rides we took. I think he nailed some of the high notes Roy was able to do. Out of all the hits that Roy Orbison created, I chose ‘Blue Bayou’ because the story resonated with me. Roy told the story so well, I actually envisioned myself in the song.”
“Blue Bayou” comes off Butzin’s upcoming album ‘Northern Trails’, out August 15. Pre-order it at Bandcamp.