We stretched our own meaning of cover version previously, when we gave the earlier three volumes of the Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project a belated review. Now, and against the odds, lo and behold, here is a fourth. Its title, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us, provides a small glimpse into the work that went into it and its end result.
As before, Task has been put together by London-based guitarist and one-time Pierce sideman Cypress Grove. Once again, it is based on demos and early recordings by the prolific Gun Club auteur, with earlier volumes stemming from cassettes squirrelled away in a drawer and found after Pierce’s untimely death. As with the others, it brings together quite the cast of contributors, many reprising roles from the earlier sets. In a reflection of the time it took to put this Task together, this includes both the living and the dead–perhaps fitting, as Pierce himself also “appears,” like a ghost at the feast, across a fair few of them.
With 18 tracks spread across four sides of vinyl, it would be impossible to talk about all the tracks here. Of course, there is the issue that few, if any, of these songs can be compared to any original. Even if you think you recognize the name of the song, possibly from one of the many Gun Club albums, the chances are that the words will be different; Pierce was notorious for writing completely different versions of, nominally, the same song.
A word is necessary for the production duties, which transcend the occasional slip from the sublime, transforming even the slightest melodic sow’s ear into a a golden purse. Sharing those duties with Grove is Australian singer, Suzie Stapleton, herself also based in London, and who appeared, if just as a performer, on the last volume. Here she steps right up, showing a sure and deft hand on the sound balance, as well as giving one of the album’s more striking vocal offerings.