If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good cover song. In fact, I love a good cover song so much that I started a weekly column about cover songs over at Radio Free Chicago, People Covering Songs I Love. With People Covering Songs I Love, I get to share my vast collection of cover songs with the world – Or at least my Midwest readers. From Jon Brion’s earnest reworking of Cheap Trick’s “Voices” to the kitschy wonder of Ted Leo’s take on “Since U Been Gone”, my collection of covers is not only large but also very near and dear to my heart. Live, covers help you connect with an artist whose work you may not know and provide a wonderful sing along opportunity for nearly everyone in the crowd. Covers can also turn a lackluster show in to an all out party and a good cover can help a musician earn your respect in ways they otherwise might not be able to. Heck, even a decent cover of a song you love can help a musician get some kudos – For instance, every time someone busts out with a Neutral Milk Hotel cover, I can’t help but feel slightly more kindred with them if only for the fact that they love Jeff Mangum at least half as much as I do.
Amongst the many covers that I love, I hold Sara Lov‘s emotional, stripped down version of Arcade Fire’s bombastic “My Body Is A Cage” amongst my very favorites. Lov also did a remarkably appealing cover of Beck’s “Timebomb”, as well as tossing up interesting cover after interesting cover on her youtube page. Taking all of this into account, it’s no wonder that I was more than a little excited for I Already Love You, Lov’s just released covers record.
Instead of using a record player as a backing track, stripping down a powerful indie anthem to a bare bones ballad, or transforming an alternative rock tune into sugary sweet pop bliss, Lov does few interesting things with the material she’s chosen on I Already Love You. Instead of being interesting, Lov relies on the fact that she has a beautiful voice but sadly, her crystal clear pitch and wonderful range is not enough to make up for the shortcomings of I Already Love You and it’s lack of memorable elements.
Lov takes on quite a few songs on I Already Love You that I adore – From Elvis Costello’s “I Want To Vanish” to The Black Heart Procession’s “Square Heart”. But for the most part, I can’t help but want more from Lov if only for the fact that I know she has more to offer. The Lov I grew to, well, love on her first solo release, Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming, and the Lov I encountered on tour with Sea Wolf and Port O’Brien in 2009 was brimming with unique appeal, equal parts indie sweetheart and tragic heroine (Read slightly more about Lov’s remarkable backstory here). Lov is not someone who should relegate herself to an adult contemporary graveyard as she does on her lackluster cover of Bright Eyes’ “Cape Canaveral” or the unlistenably schlocky “Hold Me Now”.
The stand outs here are doubtlessly “I Want To Vanish” and Lov’s heartbreaking version of Morrisey’s “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” is a song that is usually covered at face value, never straying far from Morrisey’s original. Lov, however, makes the song sound more beautiful and sad than it ever has before. It’s enough to sting even the most calloused eyes with tears. It’s just a shame that Lov didn’t exploit the talent evidenced here more often.