Erykah Badu is considered to be one of the pioneers of the ‘90s musical genre known as neo soul. Her music fused elements of different eras of soul, hip hop and jazz. Her 1997 debut album Baduizm was considered groundbreaking. These days, because of streaming, we take it for granted when an artist blends together musical styles from across different eras. Back then, displaying such a cross-section of musical influences required not only a tremendous talent but access to a deep music collection.
Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
Anna Moss and Joel Ludford make up Handmade Moments, a jazz folk duo formed in 2014 after the break up of their original band Don’t Stop Please. Moss and Ludford developed a following in Arkansas and started to travel across the country performing. Unfortunately, in 2016 they hit a major setback when they were both involved in a serious bus accident, requiring time off from touring to recover. However, this recuperation period spawned their album Paw Paw Tree, released in 2018.
This duo has chemistry and a myriad of instrument capabilities; throughout their repertoire of covers, you’ll see them play saxophone, ukulele, guitar, upright bass, even beatbox. Whether it’s soul, funk, or hip-hop, Handmade Moments have the talent to tackle both classic covers and unexpected ones. Here are some of their best.
For Record Store Day this year, Erykah Badu and The Roots keyboard player James Poyser quietly dropped a new 7″ cover of Squeeze’s oft-covered “Tempted.” For those who weren’t lucky enough to snag it that day, they’ve just posted it online.
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
My Morning Jacket made a name for themselves through epic live shows. Stretching on for up to three hours, the band’s sets don’t skimp on the covers. Their Bonnaroo sets are particularly legendary; their 2008 late night set explored funk with songs by Sly & the Family Stone, Funkadelic, James Brown, Kool & the Gang, Bobby Womack, The Velvet Underground, and Mötley Crüe. More recently they covered John Prine for a new tribute album (download it here).
“We’re trying to find amazing songs that people don’t really listen to anymore, who would hear them and go, ‘Oh, my god — why haven’t I listened to this forever?” drummer Patrick Hallahan told Spinner about what songs they select to cover. “They have to be out of rotation for a little while before we pick them up.”
In this installment of In the Spotlight we look at five of their best. The range spans from Americana to new wave, obvious choices like The Band mixed in with more surprising ones like Berlin. Some get performed for years while others only come out once or twice. The band plays a monster New York City stand in October, performing each of their albums for charity. Hopefully they’ll find time for a cover or two.