May 292023
weyes blood when you're smiling

Weyes Blood (aka Natalie Laura Mering) is a professional singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania who is currently based in Santa Monica, CA. She is best known for her emotive, Baroque-pop-sounding album, Titanic RisingMering chose “When You’re Smiling” for the soundtrack of Nat Geo’s new series, titled A Small Light. The single-season show is about the life of Miep Geis, a Dutch writer who aided in hiding Anne Frank and her family. 

“When You’re Smiling” is an extremely popular jazz standard that was first written in the 1920s. It’s been done by jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Seger Ellis. The older versions have a heavy backbeat and brushes on the drums, vocal scatting, and oftentimes, understated muted trumpet. Weyes Bloods’ version is as light as a feather, with an elegant harp, and harmonically rich piano. But forget the instrumentals! It’s the vocals that bathe everything in beams of golden light. From the layered “mmm”s and “ooo”s that flow seamlessly from one to the other, to the plainspoken, floating verses, this cover is breathtaking. As the tune comes to a close, the harp and piano descend down the royal staircase of a scale.

Be sure to also check out these other classy jazz covers!

Mar 312021
best cover songs march 2021
Brandi Carlile – I Remember Everything (John Prine cover)

Millions saw Brandi Carlile cover John Prine’s final song “I Remember Everything” at the recent Grammy Awards. Turns out, it was a preview of a new album, a sequel to 2010’s Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, one of the best tribute albums ever. Not much more info out there yet – it’ll be out in the fall, apparently – but it has a high bar to live up to. Continue reading »

Oct 102019
lana del rey for free

Lana Del Rey has been one of the most polarizing artists in the 21st century pop world. Questions of authenticity have dogged her for her entire career, from criticisms of her so called adopted persona to her supposed affections supporting it. Every move has been ripe for attack. Criticism has often come wrapped in a thin veil of sexism; the fact is, her career blueprint is not much different from that of David Bowie’s. He was as calculated and theatrical in regards to his persona and product as they come, but the credibility of the music he produced was never in question.

The latest Del Rey album, Norman Fucking Rockwell! is not the work of a persona or a character; it is an open, brazen modern day love letter to the classically cynical, gorgeous California pop of the ’70s. Gone are the echo laden, girl group, Blue Velvet vibes that personified her previous recordings, Del Rey instead meshes lyrically caustic, in your face vocals with memorable melodies resting somewhere between post Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and early ’70’s Joni Mitchell and wears her passion for these sounds on her sleeve. Prince once said when it came to making music, he would look at what his contemporaries were doing and go the other way. Del Rey is going the other way. Continue reading »