Parker Graye is a singer-songwriter from Nashville by way of British Columbia. She’s released a number of original singles in recent years, part of her self-described mission to “make country music sad again.” Clunky political references aside, Graye’s aims have been funneled towards her latest, and biggest, release from last Friday: a country cover of “Complicated,” the 2002 hit from emo-rock icon (& fellow Sad Canadian) Avril Lavigne.
Graye’s “Sad Girl Country” is a quippy hook on which to hang some new material. But in this case, the descriptor falls a bit short: there’s actually much more going on here (and much more that’s compelling) than just the solo-acoustic ballad that you might be picturing. There’s mournful pedal steel, but there’s also chipper mandolin and stomp-clap tambourine — which is all to say that the track ends up feeling far more up than down, ascending up to a charged climax that’s led by Graye’s surprisingly bright vocal performance. (Perhaps “happy and sad at the same time” is a better match for the brew she’s aiming for.) In any case, as an overall proof of concept, the musical pivot to country is a good fit for “Complicated.”
Check out Parker Graye’s cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” below.