Kirsten Agresta Copely is a harpist with a storied background. She has played harp since she was five and had her first solo tour at fourteen. Over the course of her career she has performed all over the world and shared the stage and recording studio with a variety of stars such as Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, and Evanescence. She has even played alongside Beyoncé at a state dinner for Barack Obama.
At the end of last month, Copely released her first cover album. You may think an album of harp covers is a bit niche for everyday listening, but if you are looking for a cover album with class for your next dinner party, look no further. There is something for everyone on Copely’s new album with selections that span decades, from Fleetwood Mac to Rhianna.
The cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” is a solid staple. You can’t go wrong with this oft-covered choice. The harp certainly captures a dream like ambiance, especially with the hallmark glissando leading into the chorus. The glissando is also leveraged in “Shallow,” but there it doesn’t quite build in the dramatic way characteristic of Lady Gaga’s performance.
Hearing Radiohead’s “Creep” played on harp delights a listener’s sense of juxtaposition. This version has two levels of sound — a deep and sonorous bass background overlaid with the main melody — which brings richness to the cover. The original song has plenty of vocal trills that Copely emulates on the harp strings.
The real star of the show is the cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” This sleeper hit was an unexpected song choice, but it works. There are two separate musical lines that are played with different dynamics: one loud, one soft. This playing style matches that of the original: soft background melody layered with Isaak’s voice in the foreground. The harp also captures the slightly haunting vibe that Isaak’s voice brings to the song.
My only real complaint about the album is that the delivery is almost too precise and controlled. Copely struggles to take a stance as a cover artist and reinterpret the classics in her own way, without leaning on her instrument as the only novel contribution. This is most evidenced in “Clocks,” where the only real hook is the harp. However, Copely’s technical skill is evident throughout the entire album, and the song choices will intrigue a range of music fans. Give Copely and her harp a chance!
“The Covers Album” Tracklist
- Creep (Radiohead cover)
- Harvest Moon (Neil Young cover)
- I Want to Break Free (Queen cover)
- Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Stay (Rihanna cover)
- Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)
- Clocks (Coldplay cover)
- Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Everybody Hurts (R.E.M cover)
- Kiss from a Rose (Seal cover)
- Shallow (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper cover)
- You Got Lucky (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
You can buy the album here.