Jun 062023
juliana hatfield elo

Multi-instrumentalist Juliana Hatfield’s eclectic indie career frequently, pleasingly, takes in cover versions. Adept changes of tone feature in her full-album tributes to The Police and Olivia Newton-John, which received good reviews here. Her ongoing efforts capture the musical influences, on her music and moods, of her formative years. In the latest installment, Hatfield showcases the Electric Light Orchestra’s (ELO‘s) canon in her new project, a self-described “labour of love.” A new single release is the first fruit of that work, “Don’t Bring Me Down.”

Liked but not always loved, ELO, founded and led by Jeff Lynne, were a consistent presence in the charts and the radio of the ’70s and ’80s. Lynne is a firm National Treasure in the UK today though, and appreciation is now assured. The band is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted him this year. “Don’t Bring Me Down” is emblematic of that journey. A hit from ELO’s disco-flecked Discovery album in 1979, released as disco itself was fading, there were limited cover versions until the mid 1990s, but it is now a staple covered across a wide range of genres.

Hatfield leads on arrangements, guitars and keyboards here, and Chris Anzalone adds drums and Ed Valauskas bass. The tone of this version is more upbeat than the original. Lynne gave the impression of being a man who doesn’t need to be tested any further that day. Hatfield affects the tone of someone who is in an ebullient mood, with no one raining on her parade. The vocal adds several positive flashes, to give a lighter, bubbly, tone, and she plays the enigmatic “groos” part of the refrain straight down the line. Hatfield’s guitar sounds are warm and inviting, and her keyboards subtle and supple. Providing positive contrast to the stark drum loop of the original are Anzalone’s occasional cymbal flashes. Overall the effect is positive and affirming. This bodes well for the rest of the record, due out in November.

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  One Response to “Juliana Hatfield Launches New ELO Covers Album with “Don’t Bring Me Down””

Comments (1)
  1. I dig it! I’ve been a Juliana fan since ‘Become What You Are’ (one of the great album titles) partly because I interviewed her then and that was fun!

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