While cover records may be old hat (and, recently, big news) for Cat Power, interpretations of her songs from other musicians are rarer to come by. Yet Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan has nobly entered the fray this month, offering up an epic version of Cat Power’s “Metal Heart.” The cover is officially credited to Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, and the group’s near-holy name rings true: their version is fiery, gospel-tinged and expansive.
Electronic-R&B auteur James Blake has shared a cover of the late soul great Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll Be Happier.” Released as an exclusive for Spotify Singles, Blake’s cover was recorded live in Los Angeles in September 2021. Blake has a history with “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” having incorporated the song into his live sets for nearly seven years. While some of Blake’s solo covers that feel similarly spare were released at earlier junctures of his discography — among them, covers of Joni Mitchell, Don McLean and Feist — it’s only now that the long-gestating Withers cover has come to the forefront.
Brandi Carlile is in the midst of a massive fall, having just released her latest studio record, In These Silent Days. She’s also found time to work in a number of tributes to one of her biggest musical forebears, Joni Mitchell: covering her classic “Woodstock” in a recent small but splashy SiriusXM live gig, and selling out a one-night-only full-album performance of Mitchell’s Blue at Carnegie Hall, set to take place in early November. And now Carlile has offered up another instantly iconic cover during the new studio album’s rollout, this one from an entirely separate musical legend that she also counts as a friend & fan: Elton John.
Throughout indie rock’s ascendance in the ‘00s, Cat Power (a.k.a. Chan Marshall) was one of the foremost musicians to keep the flame of cover songs alive. Marshall’s epic pair of cover LPs in that decade, 2000’s The Covers Record and 2008’s Jukebox, were luminous and sharp — featuring pointed, personal interpretations of the likes of Smog, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, James Brown, alongside legends of blues. While the albums may not have had an outsized impact (Marshall was often keen to deliberately tone her versions down, cooling the temperature and sitting back in the groove), both were brilliant vehicles for her evolution as an artist. Looking back, too, her open-hearted approach to interpreting songs of all sorts— commingling rock, folk, blues, punk and classic R&B in the same stew — was a harbinger for the genre-hopping that’s become standard in the years since Jukebox’s 2008 release. It seems only natural now, for example, to cover The Rolling Stones as a solemn dirge; to play a doo-wop classic on autoharp; or to take on Kander & Ebb with a band comprised of leading Memphis soul session players.
Though we’re admittedly lagging one episode behind here at Cover Me, we’re still properly chuffed to finally bring the affable Ted Lasso into our coverage fold. For the occasion of the ninth episode of its second season on Apple TV+, Jeff Tweedy has shared a melancholic cover of the Ted Lasso theme song usually performed by the show’s co-composer Marcus Mumford.
Funk/fusion trio Dirty Loops and guitarist Cory Wong have teamed up for an epic rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The collaboration amounts to something of an international summit for these two titans of funk. Dirty Loops, based in Stockholm, share their technical wizardry and pleasure-principle sensibilities with a line of Swedish producer forebears. Wong, long based in the Twin Cities, comes from quite a musical lineage himself: He gained his funk chops performing in clubs with Michael Bland and Sonny T, members of Prince’s band. (Beyond his solo career, Wong is also known as a featured player in Vulfpeck.)