When John Fahey-esq acoustic guitar virtuoso William Tyler delivered a covers session for Aquarium Drunkard, most of the choices were understandable ones for a fingerpicker: Ry Cooder, Blaze Floley, and a track from a compilation of rare solo guitar performances. The final one was a left-turn though: Blue Ösyter Cult. Specifically, an obscure track called “She’s As Beautiful As A Foot” from their relatively unsuccessful debut LP.
“She may be young, but she only likes old things. And modern music ain’t to her taste.”
Death Cab for Cutie only released one album, Codes and Keys, during lead singer Ben Gibbard’s brief marriage to She & Him singer, Zooey Deschanel, but that album gave us with the lyric above, from the song “Monday Morning.” The line is likely about Deschanel, and perfectly sums up Classics, She & Him’s new covers record. The selections were all written before the 34-year-old singer was born, and the production (the album was recorded live with an orchestra) does nothing to make these songs sound like they came out any time recently.
For the most part, that’s okay. She & Him is a band that sounds like they belong from another era, so you have to come to their albums with expectations about the song. While it might have been more interesting to hear newer songs performed in the style of older hits, what they give us is still charming in its own right.
New York native Kiah Victoria is nothing short of an outstanding artist, and after her recent take on Coldplay’s renowned organ ballad, there won’t be many who’d oppose that claim. Having begun her musical pursuits at the age of two and later gone on to perform as Young Nala in the Broadway production of The Lion King at the tender age of ten, it comes as no surprise the degree of talent which she is capable of. A talent she eagerly displays with her take on Coldplay‘s “Fix You.”
There’s not a whole lot of information out there about the artist who goes by Missio. A “Who Is Missio” manifesto on his website does little to answer that question, revealing only that he lives in a 1974 airstream trailer, has an unpleasant history in the music business, and recorded 52 songs already for this new project. What little else I could glean is that his real name is Matthew Brue, he lives in Austin, and he says he aims for “songwriting inspired by minimalistic purism.”
Will Oldham, whose part-time stage name is Bonnie “Prince” Billy, is full of surprises. He became Indie-famous as a soft, introspective folk singer; he’s been covered by and sang with Johnny Cash; he can surprise you with loud rockers; and he even had his video “cover” of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” with Zach Galifianakis featured on West’s website. Frankly, it can be surprising to hear him return to his roots with a heartfelt, folksy guitar number, but he recently put together a three-song set for Fogged Clarity that did just that.
For his fall tour last year, Bob Dylan encored with “Stay With Me,” a song written by Jerome Moss and Carolyn Leigh that Frank Sinatra sang in 1964. Now NPR Music has the studio recording, which is on Dylan’s Sinatra covers album Shadows In the Night, out next month.