Classic Rock songs get an unplugged and feisty makeover
For whatever reason 2014 appears to be the year of the ‘covers album’ with the great and the good releasing their own versions of other people’s songs. Some I’ve heard have obviously been contract fillers but a couple have merited more than two listens; and in the case of The Covers Collection by Sandi Thom; it just might be the album that changes her career for the better.
‘Covers albums’ are probably the bravest to make as the choice of tracks reflects on the artistes taste and judgements can be very harsh; if the rendition of someone’s favourite song doesn’t come up to scratch.
This album opens with the gentle stroking of the keys on a piano before Sandi’s soaring voice turns Heart’s Alone into a Gothic ballad that Nick Cave would be proud of.
Here Guns and Roses November Rain is virtually unrecognisable as all of the pomp and caterwauling is replaced by a piano and acoustic guitar supporting a beautiful voice purring beautiful lyrics.
Another Heavy Rock song makes an appearance with More Than Words; by Extreme. Now no longer a Power Ballad Sandi manages to find hidden depths on a song I loved many years ago.
Not everything is ‘obvious’ with the choice of Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird taking me by surprise; especially because this version flirts with Sandi’s roots as a folk singer; and her piano playing may appear simple but is actually extraordinary.
It could be said that Johnny Cash set the Benchmark for this type of album; and with the Nine Inch Nail song Hurt he (and Rick Rubin) tore up the rulebook; so singing the same song in virtually the same style is foolhardy to say the least; and here it stands out like a sore thumb.
The album ends with another surprising choice and another beautiful song; Led Zeppelin’s The Rain Song; and again Sandi manages to find a beautiful song hidden in a Heavy Metal track; who’d have thought that possible?
I’ve been a fan for several years now; and Sandi has continuously struggled to shake off her earlier ‘pop’ credentials; but with these interpretations the Scottish siren has proved she has a musical taste and vocal range second to none and hopefully other; more influential critics than me will take her more seriously from now on.