(REPOSTED with NO DOWNLOADS; see HERE for more)
We're a bit off schedule here at Cover Lay Down, and for that I apologize; I wrote this post for our usual Wednesday deadline, but the part of my brain that used to be devoted to blogging appears to have been partially subsumed by the stress of impending host-loss, and the urgent need to re-imagine the blog in another form in order to continue blogging within what I continue to maintain are perfectly legitimate, legal boundaries.
As I wrote this past Sunday, a tidal wave of great new covers from indiefolk to freak to alt-country has slammed through my inbox in the past week or two, jamming my aural pleasure circuits and tipping over onto the page. Simultaneously, a chill has fallen over much of the blogging world in the face of reports of a massive increase in DMCA takedown requests to file hosts and blog services, which have subsequently cost bloggers posts, files, and (in my own case) the impending loss of my file host altogether.
In order to clear the inbox, then, and also to avoid - at least for the moment - posting the sort of older, classic songs which seem to have been predominantly featured in the take-down bonanza, this week, we're exclusively featuring brand new coversong from all corners of the folk tent. And, since on Sunday we spoke of some amazing male folkvoices with new work on the scene, today we welcome the introduction of some wonderful womenfolk to our Late Fall/Early Winter New Release Spectacular. Enjoy.
News of The Young Eyes, the new five-song EP from LA-based Sara Lov, came to me via the best kind of personalized, targeted label outreach from professionals who make it clear that they actually read this blog -- always a nice change from the huge volume of unwanted hip-hop fusion and electrodance originals I receive every week (um, guys? Coverfolk blog, here?). I'm glad her people found me, too: Lov's short set runs a great radio-ready indie popfolk gamut, reminding me a little of Lisa Loeb, or some of Kathryn William's more atmospheric gems.
In addition to some well-crafted, playful originals, the EP includes two wonderful choices done with aplomb and majesty. My Body Is A Cage, originally by Arcade Fire, is gorgeous pianofolk, with a subtle build and a driving piano chord over its resonant atmosphere; Beck's Timebomb is a perfect light popfolk piece, jangly and bouncy all at once; together, they show range and promise galore.
Lov's label preferred streams to downloads, and we're not complaining; streams preserve copyright better, and we're just happy to have any chance to share these incredible covers with you. The plastic version of The Young Eyes doesn't drop until January, so I can't speak to the cover art, but downloads are available now; if you want to be able to take these bits and bytes away, head over to Sara Lov's website without delay. For bonus points, while you're there, check out Sara Lov's stunning cover of Simon and Garfunkel obscurity Old Friends, drowned perfectly in ringing bells and electronic haze.
Better known as a fast-rising star in the indie world, and especially in the British Isles, where her commercial for Sky+ HDTV features this new delicate pianofolk cover of Cyndi Lauper ballad True Colors, Scandinavian singer-songwriter (and blonde bombshell) Ane Brun is not necessarily as familiar to ears tuned to the folkside of the dial. But despite the almost chilly, sparse nature of her arrangements, folk fans will hear something eminently warm and familiar in these covers, especially the almost freakfolk hollowness of both voice and acoustic guitar of Big In Japan. (Think Madeleine Peyroux with Jose Gonzales on guitar, and you've captured this Alphaville cover perfectly.)
Both of today's covers are up at Ane's MySpace -- there's also a gorgeous live cover of True Colors at the end of this recent concert video recorded in Amsterdam -- and both have been featured prominently as downloads on numerous blogs without getting yanked; Ane also co-owns her own record label, so it seems safe to assume that getting them here is both acceptable, and will have no negative impact on sales. Rather, our goal, as always, is to create positive buzz and business; if you like what you hear, we highly recommend Ane's newest album Changing of the Seasons, which dropped just a few weeks ago, and is clearly poised to go very far indeed.
- Ane Brun: True Colors (orig. Cyndi Lauper)
- Ane Brun: Big In Japan (orig. Alphaville)
Finally: I debated whether or not to include notice of the new Christmas album from indiefolk darling and fellow Denison Witmer fan Rosie Thomas here; after all, it's hardly Halloween, and far be it from me to be the cause of any retroshift in what is already a culture doomed to spend a good fifth of the year shopping amidst the mistletoe. And this is unquestionably a Christmas album, complete with shaken sleighbells, children's chorus fade-outs, and plenty of cozy fireside torchswing. But truly, though the songs on A Very Rosie Christmas are eminently christmassy, the music was just to good to hold on to, no matter the season.
Previous covers from Rosie Thomas were sweet but relatively faithful, merely applying her delicate, tentative touch to the previously-posted Witmer tune Paper Doll, and to friend Sufjan Stevens' famously hushed arrangement of REM favorite The One I Love. But the sheer quirky bravado Thomas shows in utterly changing the tunes and tropes of some almost too-familiar carols which nestle among the few originals here is stunning, bringing new meaning to some old chestnuts. Turning her little girl's voice to a notch more power may move her sound a little closer towards that of fellow Christmas anthem singers Shawn Colvin or Carly Simon, but that's not always a bad thing, and happily, the vast majority of A Very Rosie Christmas stays on the good side of Contemporary Adult Alternative.
Even more exciting is the application of this redemptive, transformative approach to a few unexpected familiarities. The songs change so much, it is not far from the truth to say that Rosie's cover of Christmas Don't Be Late (the song that made Alvin and the Chipmunks famous) is quite possibly one of the best new Christmas songs I've heard in a very, very long time. I wasn't able to secure permission to share it, but I was able to garner permission to stream her cover of Joni Mitchell favorite River, which is equally transformative, especially when put up against the huge set of covers of the song we put up a year ago here on Cover Lay Down.
The stream herein is posted with permission from the label, and gratefully; it provides just the right teaser, I think. Though we're the first to share this cover with the world at large, I expect to see it popping up again and again as we head towards the holidays. A Very Rosie Christmas hits the streets November 4th, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. At this rate, we'll have snow on the ground by then.
- STREAM: Rosie Thomas: River (orig. Joni Mitchell)