What makes a musician who primarily works in electronic music, dubstep, hip-hop, and trip-hop decide to cover one of the most iconic singer-songwriter ballads of the 1970s? I don’t know, but I’m glad James Blake sat down at his piano and recorded this stunning version of Don McLean’s “Vincent”.
Blake drops the ambient backgrounds in favor of longer phrases to fill space, highlighting his extensive musical training. His vocals come out raw, with a slight crack in his voice. It works well in this context, heightening the emotion of the words and melody, though I do miss the clarity in tone of McLean’s original.
McLean himself seemed very impressed with Blake’s cover of his song: “Just listened to James Blake’s version of my song ‘Vincent’ and I’m struck but what an extraordinarily good musician he is. His singing and piano playing are superb.. Thank you James for recording my song so beautifully.” High praise from one talented artist to another.