Most musicians would find the task of covering Joanna Newsom daunting. The songs are not uncoverable, but she infuses each performance with a uniqueness and delicacy such that each track becomes almost untouchable. Fortunately, some artists possess more vision and creativity than the rest of us.
Due in December, Versions of Joanna (thumbs-up for the title) collects 22 Newsom covers to benefit Oxfam. The usual suspects turn up – if you want to compile a tribute album to anyone, you call M.Ward. That Owen Pallett takes on “Peach, Plum, Pear” isn’t shocking either; he seems to occupy similar artistic and intellectual space to Newsom. More surprisingly though, folk-punk legend Billy Bragg turns in a cover of “On a Good Day”.
Below, you can check out two videos – Bragg’s track and Joel Cathey’s “The Book Of Right-On” – and two downloads – M. Ward’s live take on “Sadie” and Pallett’s track from the 2006 Final Fantasy EP Young Canadian Mothers.
Joel Cathey – The Book of Right-On
Versions of Joanna Tracklist:
Francesco Santocono, “‘81″
A Voice Heard on Baer Mountain, “Autumn”
Sarah Katheryn, “Baby Birch”
Joel Cathey, “Book of Right-On”
Guy Buttery, “Book of Right-On” (instrumental)
Josh Mann, “Bridges & Balloons”
Chris Leeds, “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie”
Ian Cooke, “Colleen”
This Is Deer Country, “Easy”
Doublewuzzy, “Flying a Kite”
Rosa Hinksman, “In California”
White Elephant Gift Exchange, “Inflammatory Writ”
Ian Cooke, “Monkey & Bear”
Billy Bragg, “On a Good Day”
Kristina Forrer, “On a Good Day”
Owen Pallett, “Peach, Plum, Pear”
M. Ward, “Sadie”
Ben Sollee, “Sawdust & Diamonds”
David Miele, “Soft as Chalk”
The Moscow Coup Attempt, “Sprout and the Bean”
Melissa Stylianou, “Swansea”
Jennifer Schmitt, “This Side of the Blue”
Check out more Joanna Newsom at her record company’s website.