Nov 302018

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!


Whitehorse has had a pretty darn good 2018. Their 2017 album Panther in the Dollhouse was nominated for a Juno for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. They recorded two new albums: A Whitehorse Winter Classic, released earlier this month, and The Northern South Vol.2, which comes out in January. We premiered their cover of Slim Harpo’s “Baby, Scratch My Back,” and also learned about some of the favorite covers of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, the husband and wife that make up the band.

But Whitehorse’s trajectory hasn’t only just started soaring – they’ve been going onward and upward since Doucet and McClelland first formed the band in 2011. They’d paired up professionally in 2004, when Doucet worked on McClelland’s Stranded in Suburbia album, and personally in 2006, when they married. Now that their cup runneth over, let’s look back at some of the cover songs with which they filled it.

Whitehorse – I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Whitehorse’s self-titled first album was a brief affair, lasting under twenty-five minutes, but the impression it made on listeners lasted far longer. It included one cover, and not an unusual one – Second Hand Songs lists over seven dozen covers of “I’m On Fire,” making it the Boss’s most-covered song. They still manage to make theirs stand out, with male/female back-and-forth duetting and a guitar solo that the original suddenly sounds like it needed.

Whitehorse – Ophelia (The Band cover)

Q107, Toronto’s Rock Station, has a feature called Take 2, where an in-studio guest covers a classic hit. If you’re a cover song fan, you’ll want to check out their YouTube playlist collecting some great reworkings. One is Whitehorse’s take on the Band’s “Ophelia,” which keeps the loose upbeat feel of the original while changing it from Dixieland to rustic bar backroom.

Whitehorse – Wang Dang Doodle (Willie Dixon / Howlin’ Wolf cover)

This video gives an excellent illustration of how Whitehorse work, building track on top of track until they’ve got a whole that could stand up to anybody. That’s no mean feat when it comes to “Wang Dang Doodle,” penned by Willie Dixon and introduced to the world by Howlin’ Wolf. But facts are facts – the construction may be fascinating to watch, but the building itself is breathtaking.

Whitehorse – Nadine (Chuck Berry cover)

They say you don’t hear something until you’re ready to hear something. That was me with Whitehorse. I was driving for the sake of driving last week, listening to the North Americana channel on Sirius XM while I still could, and they played “Nadine” by Whitehorse. I recognized the song, and made a mental note to remember the artist for a Cover Me post. By the time the song was over, I wanted to learn more about them, not for this blog, but because they were so tremendous. Slowing Chuck Berry down and jacking up the sensuality made for a whole new experience that I couldn’t wait to share. I got to the party late, but I got there.

Whitehorse – 2000 Miles (The Pretenders cover)

Seven of the nine songs on A Whitehorse Winter Classic are originals – rather a brave move for a holiday release, it must be said, and they stand up well to unfair expectations. But the duo also take the time to cover Elvis’s “Blue Christmas” and the Pretenders’ “2000 Miles.” The latter may be a quarter century younger, but it’s fast becoming a standard in its own right, right up there with “Fairytale of New York” in Indie Xmas Tunes. Whitehorse do it more than justice.

Whitehorse record for Six Shooter Records.

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