It’s one thing to simply cover another artist’s song; it’s quite another to re-imagine it in a meaningful way. In that vein we’ve been treated to some mighty fine covers this year. Here are a few of my favorites plus a brilliant selection from the archives .
Woodruff turns this classic song by the Supremes on its head. Whereas the original is an upbeat and somewhat defiant appeal to a cheating lover, Woodruff’s version is a mournful plea. The transformation is striking.
Australia singer-songwriter Nicholson reshapes this Replacements rocker into a beautiful ballad. An insistent drum track keeps it from becoming maudlin while an otherwise spare arrangement highights the poignant melancholy of the lyrics.
Who better to cover one of rock history’s greatest bar bands than, well, one of the genre’s most fervent current practitioners. Dean Schlabowske’s ragged but impassioned vocals, accompanied by his bandmates scruffy harmonies, make for one fist-pumping sing-along.
I already shared Ambel’s incredible cover of Gillian Welch’s “Miss Ohio” here but there are more gems to be found on his latest release. Barrett Strong’s ode to income has been covered countless times, most notably by the Beatles. Eric “Roscoe” Ambel unleashes his guitar with glorious results on this electrifying roadhouse version.
Nile pays tribute to the late Lou Reed with a rousing take on a Velvet Underground classic. In Nile’s hands, the song becomes a radiant rocker.
Hill and her band slow down the tempo and add a healthy dose of grittiness to this legendary Sam Cooke hit.
The NYC-based quartet maintain the spirit of the Aretha Franklin original but give it an enticing Cajun feel by adding some winsome harmonies and a wisp of accordion.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
You may never hear TLC’s R&B classic in the same way again once you’ve heard Steve Poltz lay it down folk-singer style.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.