Jake Callaway

Feb 052019
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

henry jamison covers

Vermont singer-songwriter Henry Jamison addresses a difficult subject on his new album Gloria Duplex: toxic masculinity. “When I was in college 10 years ago, we were just horrible,” he told the New York Times on the subject. “People in their 20s are examining these issues in a way that feels very natural.”

Jamison’s gift with melody makes these weighty topics levitate. Nick Drake meets The National on these twelve songs, with Jamison working with major-league collaborators including St. Vincent’s right-hand man Thomas Bartlett on production and Bon Iver collaborator Rob Moose of yMusic arranging the strings. Hear a taste on single “Boys”:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his talents, Jamison knows his musical history. It’s a rare musician at this point who doesn’t choose a single song anyone else has, but Jamison digs deep. No “Hallelujah” or “Hurt” here. He also continued confronting toxic masculinity at its worst, having to banish an R. Kelly cover we once also adored (not to worry, Henry’s substitute pick is great too). Let Henry introduce you to some new favorites below. Continue reading »

Jan 182019
 
hozier say my name

Hozier just announced his first album in four years. To coincide with the news, he performed a highly unexpected cover for Spotify: Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” Needless to say, if you’ve ever heard a note of Hozier’s music, it sounds nothing like the original.

The sound actually recalls another artist he recently covered, Van Morrison. Hozier brings a heap of soul and passion to this slowgroove, complete with organ, horns, and backing singers (they’re about the only hint left at the original). It’s a radical reimagining of a silly song, and brings about as much profundity as one can to lyrics about runnin’ game and actin’ shady. We’d love to hear him tackle on of Beyoncé’s more serious songs next time. In the mean time, listen to it below, and his aforementioned Van Morrison cover too. Continue reading »

Feb 122018
 
david bowie howard stern covers

Over the weekend, Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show aired a massive set of 25 new David Bowie covers by big names across classic rock (Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren, Daryl Hall), 1990s alternative (Garbage, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor), and current indie favorites (Dawes, Car Seat Headrest, Sun Kil Moon). Gems abounded, but we’ve picked out the best eight covers of the bunch.

They are, not coincidentally, the songs that changed the most from the originals. David Bowie was constantly reinventing his sound, so it seems wrong to cover his songs too faithfully. Continue reading »

Feb 092018
 
nick drake covers mojo

Once or twice a year, Britain’s great music magazine Mojo will curate a tribute album to accompany an issue. The latest issue features Nick Drake on the cover, for what would have been his 70th birthday this year, and a CD featuring new covers by younger folk and indie admirers.

Many of the songs follow Drake’s quieter templates, like Joan Shelley’s gorgeous “Time Has Told Me.” Others veer further afield, like a version of “River Man” by Field Music that lurches in stops and starts with a hint of krautrock. Or “Fruit Tree” by The Saxophones, which features periodic blasts from their titular instrument. Continue reading »

Oct 192017
 
lisa loeb covers

During their 1970s heyday, the family band Five Stairsteps were dubbed “The First Family of Soul.” These days, though, they’re best remembered for a single song: the uplifting slow-burn “O-o-h Child.” It’s become something of a standard over the years, covered by everyone from Nina Simone to Hall & Oates.

The latest make things easier/brighter is Lisa Loeb. Like the Stairsteps, she’s had multiple hits, but one stands above all else: 1994’s “Stay (I Missed You).” Her cover of “O-o-h Child,” off her new off her new kids covers album Lullaby Girl, keeps the basic Five Stairsteps format but slows it down a bit, replacing the big group vocals with a tender ballad croon.

“I’m not the first person ever to cover ‘O-O-H Child,’ but it is one of my favorites from the ’70s and I was really excited to approach it within the context of my Lullaby Girl album with my creative collaborator and producer/arranger Larry Goldings,” Loeb told Billboard, who premiered the video. “I feel that the video really looks like this song recording: it’s real, it’s intimate and it’s calming, but it has a good hint of the real energy behind it, like the original recording that inspired it.”

Check out more from Lisa Loeb on her website.

Jul 182017
 
anthony damato covers

If someone told you to sing “This Land Is Your Land,” how much could you do off the top of your head? Redwood forest, check. Ribbon of highway probably too. But do you know this verse?

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
That side was made for you and me.

That rarely-sung verse, from Woody Guthrie’s original lyrics, helped inspire Anthony D’Amato’s shimmering new cover (which features background vocals from Josh Ritter). Though written in 1940, that line about walls dividing people holds increasing resonance today. And it’s a subject D’Amato cares a lot about; his last album included the Trump-inspired original “If You’re Gonna Build A Wall” and both tracks appear on new charity EP Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Continue reading »