“Passionate Kisses” is the fourth single from Lucinda Williams‘ breakthrough self-titled third album. A few years later it gained fame through a cover by Mary Chapin Carpenter, a faithful rendition somewhat prettied up by Carpenter’s smoother voice and the mainstream country production. (Check out the slow piano introduction to Carpenter’s version. It could be an entirely different song.) It’s arguably this cover that broke Williams.
Alexa Rose is a North Carolina-based singer-songwriter originally from Virginia. She’s put out two albums of her own material and just released an EP this week, which features a cover of “Passionate Kisses” in addition to two original songs.
Rose’s version is considerably more stripped down and sedate than both Carpenter’s famous cover and Williams’ original. It begins with just Rose’s acoustic guitar and voice. Rose’s voice is one of the biggest changes; her voice is extremely pretty and lacks the gravel of Williams’s voice or even the hints of gravel that Mary Chapin Carpenter brought to a few moments of the song. Another major change is that the pace is also slower. And with only a second guitar joining her, the upbeat jaunt of the song just disappears. The lyrics come across as a little more forlorn and disappointed in Rose’s version – whereas in the original and Carpenter’s version, there is defensiveness mixed with happiness.
It’s a pretty cover that changes enough from the most famous version to sound fresh: