Two schoolboys, Jack Duff and Cormac Connell, from Navan, County Meath, Ireland impressed the judges on Wednesday night’s episode of Britain’s Got Talent with their cover of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters & Men.
Massenet’s Méditation from Thaïs is one of the most beautiful pieces ever composed. Even if you don’t recognize the title, it’s likely you’ve heard it in a movie or commercial – it recently appeared on the soundtrack to Liberal Arts. You can download a recording featuring Scottish violinist Nicola Benedett and French pianist Julien Quentin at the Gardner Museum Music Library.
Massenet – Méditation from Thaïs (mp3 download page)
Benedetti was also featured on a recent Tiny Desk Concert, performing the theme from Schindler’s List and the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin. I also love her version of Spiegel Im Spiegel.
We in the Muruch household were very excited to hear Sarah Simmon cover Brandi Carlile‘s “The Story” on NBC’s The Voice last night. It’s our favorite Brandi Carlile song and really should be the next “Hallelujah” cool song everyone loves to cover (hear that, Allison Crowe?!). Sarah didn’t quite capture the chill-producing emotion of Carlile’s extraordinary original, but it’s a formidable song for any singer to tackle.
Ever since Carrie Underwood broke out on season four of American Idol with her cover of Heart‘s “Alone,” the song has become a favorite on reality singing competitions. But it’s a great song by a great band, so that’s fine by me. Sasha Allen gave the femme monster ballad an emotive, acoustic soul makeover on The Voice last night. See her impressive cover and the unparalleled original by Heart below…
The Voice‘s Judith Hill may have covered Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” last night, but her soulful voice and piano playing reminded me of the first time I heard Alicia Keys perform “Fallin’” on The Grammys (or was it the VMAs?) back in 2001.You can watch Judith’s performance and hear the original Carole King song below…
Dayna Kurtz’ new album, Secret Canon Vol. 2, is a thing of beauty. The followup to last year’s Secret Canon 1, Secret Canon Vol. 2 is a collection of rare blues and jazz covers from the 1940-60s with a few originals in the same vein. Dayna calls the album her “New Orleans record.” It’s bluesy, it’s bold and so very, very classic.
I was shocked to discover that the opener “I Look Good in Bad” is a Dayna Kurtz original. The song structure, lyrics and instrumentation seem so classic it could easily be a Bessie Smith cover. It’s one of many songs on the album that showcase the rich and robust range of Dayna’s voice. M.C. Records was kind enough to allow me to share the song, which you can stream below.
Dayna also delivers a stunningly beautiful and emotive rendering of the vintage soul ballad “Reconsider Me” — originally recorded by Johnny Adams, but probably best known as a 1970s country hit by Narvel Felt. You can stream that song at MC Records.
Other highlights include “One More Kiss,” “Same Time, Same Place,” “All I Ask is Your Love” and “I’ll Be a Liar.”
I love, love, love this album. Fiercely, immensely, wholeheartedly. It reminds me of the first time I heard Dayna’s magnificent voice at Mountain Stage in 2002 (sadly my Muruch review of that concert was lost in the great archive disaster of 2005). I had never heard of Dayna before that concert, which I attended to see Natalie Merchant. Dayna walked out onto the stage, sat down in a wooden chair, and tuned her guitar for a few minutes without saying a word. Then she opened her mouth to sing “Love Gets in the Way” (from Postcards from Downtown) and her extraordinary, soaring voice commanded the attention of every single audience member. Like the classic songs she chose to cover on Secret Canon Vol. 2, Dayna’s voice just gets better with age.
SoundCloud stream uploaded w/ permission of M.C. Records
The Wailin’ Jennys is spawning some excellent solo albums. First Heather Masse, now Ruth Moody is set to release her sophomore solo album, These Wilder Things, on May 7th. Moody’s angelic, lilting soprano tangles with pop-polished bluegrass and folk. The new album also features guests Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas and Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan.
The standout tracks are the old-fashioned, slightly eerie opener “Trouble and Woe” and the spectacular Mark Knopfler duet “Pockets.”
Other highlights include the beautiful title track ballad, “One and Only,” “Trees for Skies” and the exquisite, Celtic-influenced “Life is Long.”
The album also features a pretty, slowed and stripped down cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” You can listen to the track, “One Light Shining,” in the following Soundcloud stream…
SoundCloud Stream Uploaded & Posted w/ Permission of Red House Records
Guest Post by Brendan
Theo Tarsiguel has released a solo piano album for free download from Noisetrade. The collection includes covers of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” and One Republic’s “Apologize” in addition to Theo’s versions of soundtrack pieces from The Intouchables, Amelie and Twilight.
Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake will be released on April 16th. The tribute to the late, great Nick Drake was assembled by Drake’s original producer Joe Boyd. Recorded live in London and Melbourne with the various artists sharing harmonies and instrumentation throughout the album, Way to Blue features Lisa Hannigan, Vashti Bunyan, Shane Nicholson, Teddy Thompson, Robyn Hitchcock and many more.
Luluc’s opening rendition of “Things Behind the Sun” sounds like Nico covering Nick Drake, which I happen to like.
Scott Matthews’ “Place to Be” is as deliciously gritty as an Eddie Vedder song.
Shane Nicholson (a.k.a. Mr. Kasey Chambers) manages to infuse “Poor Boy” with just enough pep and twang to make it fresh without compromising the integrity of the original.
The standout track is Krystle Warren’s soulful rendering of “Time Has Told Me,” the video of which you can watch below.
Vashti Bunyan and Lisa Hannigan are a perfect fits for their respective covers of “Which Will” and “Black Eyed Dog.”
Teddy Thompson’s “River Man” is surprisingly effective. It’s my second favorite Nick Drake song (after “Northern Sky,” which is sadly absent here) so I was cynical going in. But the piano and string arrangement of this cover is beautiful. You can watch the video below.
None of the tracks are weak, though many others blend into the background. There are so many other artists – Allison Crowe, Rufus Wainwright Shawn Colvin, The Low Anthem, Lost in the Trees, The Lumineers, Brandi Carlisle – that could’ve taken this tribute to another level of brilliance. So Way to Blue is a solid tribute to the legendary Nick Drake, but I can’t help feeling there was potential, lost, for magnificence.