Jake Callaway

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 »

May 102017
 
offa rex

At the first show of their recent three-night run in NYC, The Decemberists brought out singer Olivia Chaney for a mysterious song they didn’t really explain. Featuring Chaney leading on harpsichord and vocals, it was weird and proggy in a similar way to the Decemberists’ own album Hazards of Love. Now, a few weeks later, we know what the performance was teasing: an upcoming Decemberists/Chaney covers album under the band name Offa Rex. Continue reading »

May 042017
 
levy and the oaks

Any band from Asbury Park has an obvious choice to make. You can run like hell from any Boss comparisons or embrace your city’s favorite son. Levy & the Oaks has chosen the latter, healthier option on a new cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” premiering below.

“I’m on Fire” is one of Springsteen’s most-covered songs, and the first few guitar strums might make you expect another paint-by-numbers Americana version. But the moment Lou Panico starts singing, it becomes something special. He may hail from Springsteen’s stomping grounds, but he is not too beholden to tradition, changing the song’s melody and rhythm to make it his own. Continue reading »

Mar 212017
 
streets of philadelphia cover

“Streets of Philadelphia” is one of Bruce Springsteen’s best-known songs since his 1980s ubiquity, even winning him an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1994. But for whatever reason, the man himself doesn’t play it live very much. Since the 1990s, he’s only performed it twice outside the titular city (and even there he often skips it).

Luckily, other artists are filling the void. The past month has seen two terrific covers surface, one by Ryan Adams and the other by Berlin electronic duo Lea Porcelain. While Adams has a tendency to cover less obvious fare – think Danzig or Taylor Swift (for a full album no less) – Springsteen falls squarely in his wheelhouse. So his cover is about what you’d expect from a solo acoustic performance – but few artists put as much emotion into solo acoustic performances as Ryan Adams. Even if he’s not wildly rearranging it, his cover proves powerful in a quiet way. Continue reading »

Feb 022017
 
amanda shires cover

Amanda Shires is best known as a violinist (also for being Jason Isbell’s wife and sometimes bandmate), but on her tender new cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” she ditches her signature instrument for the ukulele. At least it has the same number of strings!

She proves equally adept at the new instrument, plucking it quietly to accompany her delicate singing. She gets bonus points too for not forcing a switch to “I’m Your Woman,” the sort of dumb lyric change too many singers do when covering a song by someone of the opposite gender. Continue reading »