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.
It’s a tradition as old as Cover Me. We put together our posts for the year’s best covers, and not 48 hours after our post is finalized, a cover crosses our radar that absolutely would have made the list had we only heard it just a few days earlier. It’s frustrating, but at least we’re in a position where we can still spread the word.
For me, 2020’s woulda-coulda-shoulda song was “Skyway” by Shaye Zadravec, from her cover album Now and Then. She’s a new name to me, but in Calgary she’s been performing for almost a decade, getting the attention and mentorship of Ian Tyson (“Four Strong Winds”) and Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing,” “Angel of the Morning”) in the process. Catch her here while her star is still ascending.
Shaye Zadravec – Skyway (The Replacements cover)
Zadravec wanted to mix up her repertoire a little; looking for an upbeat song to contrast her batch of slow ballads, she bought a compilation album of the Replacements. What song of theirs caught her attention? The tender “Skyway,” with Paul Westerberg reluctantly baring his secret heart. In an interview, Zadravec talked about how “it was so different than anything else…. It didn’t even sound like the same band. But that was the one I was drawn to. I thought ‘ah, I don’t need to do an upbeat song. I’ll just do the prettiest song on the album.’” Thank heaven she did. It’s even prettier now, sounding even more midwestern than Westerberg, and Zadravec gives its wounded heart an extra blanket of warmth.
Shaye Zadravec – Love is a Rose (Neil Young cover)
Zadravec got her start performing at open mike nights and various benefits. Here she is barely out of her teens, covering Neil Young (it’s the law if you’re a Canadian, after all). Good as she is here, she’s grown a lot since then, and we’re glad she stayed on the vine.
Shaye Zadravec – Bang Bang (Cher cover)
Sonny Bono wrote “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” for his wife Cher, who took it into the top five in both the US and the UK. The number of covers it’s garnered runs into the triple digits, from Nancy Sinatra to her dad and beyond. Zadravec’s cover, adorned with autoharp, has a haunted beauty that’s not easily shaken off, nor should it be.
Tom Phillips and the D.T.s feat. Shaye Zadravec – Before the Next Teardrop Falls (Duane Dee cover)
Tom Phillips is another established Canadian performer who recognized Zadravec’s talents very early on, taking her under his wing and featuring her as vocalist in his band the D.T.s. Here they are performing “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” at the Ironwood Stage & Grill in Calgary. No Spanish passages here, but you won’t miss them.
Shaye Zadravec – Lilac Wine (Hope Foye cover)
“I absolutely love singing ‘Lilac Wine,” Zadravec said. “When I first heard it, it was kind of spooky, soft vocals but it’s so powerful in the way it’s constructed.” That it is, especially the way she sings it. This black and white video was Zadravec’s calling card in 2018, and the ripples it sent out show no signs of stopping.
Learn more about Shaye Zadravec on her website.