Oftentimes, the difference between a good cover and a great cover can be boiled down to a simple question: does the artist make the song their own? This writer figured out the difference at a young age thanks to Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends” at the beginning of The Wonder Years every week. Good covers are simply covers; great covers are reimaginings.
This distinction is captured beautifully in Seven Swans Reimagined, and the title is a perfectly accurate one. This various-artists project from On Joyful Wings is not merely a tribute to the Sufjan Stevens album, but a complete redirection of all the beauty that Stevens imbued it with in the first place. The artists include a few Cover Me favorites like Wakey!Wakey! and Bonnie “Prince” Billy and some of Stevens’ labelmates from Asthmatic Kitty (Shannon Stephens, Half-Handed Cloud).