Hailing from the blues hotbed of St. Louis, Bhi Bhiman isn’t your typical acoustic guitar-strumming, harp-blowing, scratchy-voiced folk troubadour. While many of his folk peers strive for the classic early-Bob Dylan aesthetic, Bhi’s voice has a soulful smoothness to it that makes him sound more like Cee-Lo Green than Ramblin’ Jack Elliot or Woody Guthrie. Considering the obvious vocal resemblance between Bhiman and the former Goodie Mob rapper, it seems only natural that Bhi would offer his own acoustic interpretation of Green’s most vocally-ambitious track, the hit single “Crazy” from the 2006 debut album by Gnarls Barkley, Green’s collaborative project with Danger Mouse.
A few months ago Tyler Ramsey released an acoustic cover of the ’80s hit “All Through The Night,” written by Jules Shear and famously covered by Cyndi Lauper on her 1984 debut album. Now the tune seems to be making a full-fledged comeback, as a new collaborative project called U.S. Elevator recently released their own cover as a single. The voice behind the group is none other than Sarah Lee Guthrie, daughter of Arlo and granddaughter of Woody, who has released several albums with her husband Johnny Irion as a folk-rock duo. To form U.S. Elevator, the pair joined forces with San Franciscan production duo The Rondo Brothers, who are connected to acts like Galactic and Foster the People.
Few musicians (if any) have re-defined the technique of their instrument the way Jake Shimabukuro has with his revolutionary ukulele arrangements. He introduced himself to the world when his technically-ambitious reworking of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” hit YouTube in 2006, and he has continued to release a steady stream of equally impressive covers and originals since. Inspired by Adele‘s Grammy sweep, Jake recently brought his unique style to her massive single “Rolling In The Deep,” which he performed recently in an exclusive for Perez Hilton’s website.
Punch Brothers, one of the predominant groups of the recent “newgrass” acoustic revival, have always had a penchant for cross-genre experimentation, incorporating jazz song forms, Bach sonatas and rock covers into their live sets and albums. For their brand-new album Who’s Feeling Young Now?, Chris Thile, Noam Pickelny and company have finally decided to record their cover of Radiohead‘s electronic masterpiece “Kid A,” which has been the closing song of their live set since 2009. On stage they usually transition from “Kid A” into their cover of Gillian Welch’s much more traditional and upbeat “Wayside/Back In Time,” contrasting the two styles, but on the album it appears on its own, proving its worth as more than a live novelty.
In the most recent edition of The Voice Project, an ongoing project employing covers from indie artists to raise money and awareness for the plight of women in Uganda and Central Africa, Cillie Barnes invited cameras into her home to record her singing an interpretation of the song “Million Dollar Bill” by fellow LA folkies Dawes. Barnes, the musical moniker of Vanessa Jeanne Long, teamed up with Joe Keefe on acoustic guitar for the cover, which mostly follows Taylor Goldsmith’s original composition, except for a few glaring changes.
15-year-old vocal phenom Jasmine van den Bogaerde, who performs under the cutesy stage name Birdy, has been slowly releasing stunning cover videos for about a year now, starting with her take on Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” and following up with “Shelter” by the xx and others on her YouTube channel. While her debut album came out in November in the UK (where Birdy lives), it won’t hit American shelves until May 20th. In anticipation of her impending North American invasion, Birdy just dropped a new video of her solo piano take on Phoenix’s 2009 hit “1901,” treating it as gently and beautifully as we’ve come to expect from this wunderkind of covers.