Category: Reid Jamieson

Single-Shot Coverfolk: O Canada
(Reid Jamieson Folks Up The Canadian National Anthem)

July 1st, 2011 — 06:03 am

News from North-of-the-border fave Reid Jamieson, whose tribute to the songs of 1969 found exclusive first-round coverage here on these pages back in March: it’s Canada Day, and he’s recorded a sweet upbeat cover of their national anthem in his signature countryfolk style. Take a minute and twenty out of your busy Friday schedule to celebrate, won’t you?

Like it? There’s plenty more coverage where that came from, including Reid’s takes on songs from fellow countrymen Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, and Great Lake Swimmers, over at Reido Radio!

8 comments » | Holiday Coverfolk, Reid Jamieson

Monday Madness: Reid Jamieson covers 1969
(a full album release-day exclusive!)

March 14th, 2011 — 05:26 pm

Loving a musician can be sweet, indeed. Today’s evidence: as a present for his wife’s birthday, Cover Lay Down’s favorite Canadian singer-songwriter Reid Jamieson cut her a full album’s worth of hits from 1969, and the collection is a delight, full of sunshine and daisies, loose and light with love and affection. Says Carolyn:

“Reid actually recorded these songs in secret – right under my nose – over the last 2 weeks when not at work, rehearsal or sleeping and eating. He even hid a new snare drum in his laundry basket the whole time so I wouldn’t think something was up.”

The songs are mostly all one- and two-take session work, making their sheer success a tribute to Reid’s talent, and to his love for the birthday girl in question. But we’ve got full permission from the beaming recipient to share ‘em with impunity, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Reid’s self-proclaimed “midwife of song”. Snag what you will, leave a birthday wish for Carolyn in the comments if you so choose, and then head over to Reid’s homepage to purchase and sample more of the same, the better to keep the happy couple going for years to come.

Are you new to all things Reid? Then don’t forget to head back in time for our previous feature, wherein Reid Jamieson covers Elvis, Madonna, Sting, Lionel Richie, the 6ths, Laura Viers & more!

793 comments » | Reid Jamieson

Reid Jamieson Covers:
Elvis, Madonna, Sting, Lionel Richie, the 6ths, Laura Viers & more!

June 13th, 2010 — 09:46 pm

Discovering under-the-radar singers who share my love of coverage is always a treat, especially when their website features a huge cache of free downloads. But far too often, I find, there’s a reason why such cover-heavy collections remain undersung. Mere interpretative skill is nothing to sneeze at, to be sure – after all, there are some wonderful artists out there who have made a career of taking on the songs of one source or another. But our mandate here is to help you find your way to singer-songwriters through coverage, in order to help their stars rise, and the heavens continue to be full of their infinite grace. As such, we’d be remiss if we slipped into the kitsch and kaboodle of the one-off cover, or even the genre artist.

Happily, Reid Jamieson is more than just another unsigned cover artist leveraging the web and the songbooks of giants to reach a few more fans. Essentially unknown in the States, the Canadian singer-songwriter has been busy above the border for a decade or more, recording four albums since 2001. He’s worked with Sarah Harmer and members of Blue Rodeo, had songs featured on TV and in film, and been a staple member of CBC’s Vinyl Cafe, both on the air and on the program’s sponsored tour, since 2006. And though his next potentially career-exploding album isn’t due until September, it’s never too early to offer a closer, more thorough look, so you can say you knew him when.

I actually found Reid Jamieson a few years back, while scouring the web for Harry Nilsson covers. At first listen, the slight strain of his tenor and his country-boy strum style brought Mark Erelli most obviously to mind, while his sideburned look – equal parts Morrissey and Chris Isaak – only reinforced my first impression of a musician playing at the border between traditional country and modern singer-songwriter folk. And certainly, like Erelli, the slippery-voiced Jamieson shows strong in the guise of pop-country crooner, as evidenced by his 2007 Elvis covers album The Presley Sessions; if you’d heard nothing else, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the man was nothing more than an unusually strong country-folk performer, worth watching for if you like that kind of stuff.

But don’t let his wry grin, or his tendency towards the playful and coy, fool you into missing the depth and dexterity Jamieson brings to both his songwriting and his interpretation of the songs of others. The haunting beauty he evokes when he turns his talents to stripped-down folk or bluesy solo takes on pop ballads is on par with the jumping, rocking energy and charm he brings to his performance of country standards. There’s as much Amos Lee and Damien Rice in this sound as there is acoustic country. And that’s a good thing, indeed.

It’s rare to find an artist so powerfully adept in so many different modes of performance, and rarer still to find one who is so deliberate about applying that chameleonesque style and substance to such a diverse set of source material. And though we admire his fearlessness in making coverage such a vital part of his artistic canon, with an equally strong knack for hook-laden writing, and for applying just the right tone to every one of his own notes and songs, clearly, Reid Jamieson is a rising star overdue for recognition beyond his native borders.

Check out over a decade of mostly acoustic coverage below – most skimmed from the Reido Radio section of Reid’s website, so I’ve eschewed the usual track-by-track references for all but the last few tracks – and hear it for yourself.

Ready for some original works? Good, because Reid Jamieson’s most recent release – Courting Juniper, an utterly gorgeous stripped-down six-song EP released last November – is smooth and pensive without losing a whit of the energy and sensuality of his previous work, showing the kind of maturation that can tip a performer over into name recognition, and bringing elements of popfolkers Brent Dennon and Ron Sexsmith into the mix.

Courting Juniper also bodes exceptionally well for Jamieson’s upcoming full-length Staring Contest, which will feature full studio versions of the Courting Juniper songs along with more originals, and guest backing from Samantha Parton of Be Good Tanays and Anne Lindsay of Blue Rodeo.

Of course, as noted above, Jamieson’s website is chock full of downloadables, both originals and covers; if it’s coverage you desire, I absolutely recommend that you head on over for more of the greatness featured above – most especially the entirety of his Train Songs session from The Vinyl Cafe, which is due to be rebroadcast on June 15th on Vinyl Cafe – and pick up the aforementioned Presley Sessions disc while you’re there. But don’t forget to bookmark, too: I have it on good authority that Jamieson is working on a 7-song EP of Neil Finn/Split Enz/Crowded House covers, which is just icing on the cake.

1,259 comments » | Reid Jamieson

Covered in Folk: Harry Nilsson (Covers from Marc Cohn, Steve Forbert, Glen Phillips and more!)

October 15th, 2008 — 10:00 pm

My interest in Harry Nilsson came through coversong, most specifically 1995 covers album For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson, which I picked up when it was new in order to gain access to otherwise-unavailable rarities from Marc Cohn, Aimee Mann, and a solid roster of other perfectly tuned oddities (like, say, Fred Schneider of the B-52s doing a pitch-perfect version of Coconut, or the infamous nasal harmonies of The Roches applied to a space-age Spaceman). Purchasing the album was a revelation: here was a set of tunes that were all strangely familiar, yet I had never realized that they were all from the same guy. For the rest of my life, a huge set of the songs in the very air of modern American culture would have new relevance to me — which is to say, Nilsson’s work remained ubiquitous as it had always been, but this time, when I heard his songs, I knew how to connect them.

Nilsson is best known in the world of cover collectors for his incredible cover of Beatles classic You Can’t Do That, which combines bits and pieces from 22 other songs from the Beatles catalog, and for his definitive version of Fred Neil’s Everybody’s Talkin’, which appeared in the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy, and would later be covered by dozens of others, far too often erroneously attributed to Nilsson himself. His voice is familiar to Western culture due to an almost unprecedented turn as a composer for and song contributor to over fifty film and television soundtracks, from the theme song to The Courtship of Eddie’s Father to the entirety of the songs written for the sorely disappointing Robin Williams/Shelley Long vehicle Popeye. You may have also seen his oddly endearing 1971 made-for-TV morality play and kidproject The Point in your own childhood, as I did; Nilsson claims he had the idea for the project while on acid, and it shows.

But Nilsson was more than just a soundtrack and novelty song guy. A highly prolific and versatile artist in the sixties and seventies, Nilsson released twenty albums between 1962 and 1980, when illness and exhaustion, coupled with the death of his friend John Lennon, drove him away from the studio. He was an incredible songsmith, as his high coverage speaks to; he had a way with a tune, and an ability to speak wistfully yet wryly about cultural alienation through finely honed lyrics floated upon a full wash of rich, orchestrated sound. Discovering his work has been a joy. Knowing that I have only hit the tip of the iceberg is even more wonderful.

Despite high pop culture credibility and two Grammy Awards, it is generally believed that Nilsson’s tendency towards constant reinvention and vast shifts in musical style throughout his career kept him from the recognition that he truly deserved. But over a decade after his death, a quick peruse of the blogosphere reveals that Nilsson continues to have a huge fan base among audiophiles, many of whom believe that his true genius was criminally underrated throughout a highly productive career pushing the envelope of sound and sarcasm, irreverence and grandiose instrumentation. Tellingly, Lennon, who shared Nilsson’s disdain for commercialism, was also a fan; in turn, I’ve heard bloggers I trust refer to Nilsson’s work as “Beatles-esque”, and though I’m not the hugest Beatles fan, I can see what they mean. And any musician who had his work included in High Fidelity — which is, after all, about music with a high credibility factor — automatically gets counted as one of the best of the underrated bunch.

I didn’t grow up with Nilsson in the house; as such, I owe a huge debt to the musicians I love and the blogosphere at large for my increasing fandom of Nilsson, who not only helped me put a name to this culturally ubiquitous voice, but taught me that there was more to this artist than soundtracks, misattribution, and “put the lime in the coconut”. As thanks and in tribute to the power of iconoclasts everywhere, here’s some of my favorite folk-tinged Harry Nilsson covers, from the great, lazy jazzgrass jams of Glen Phillips and Nickel Creek side project Mutual Admiration Society to Steve Forbert’s torn, wistful take on The Moonbeam Song.

Welsh popfolkie and early Apple recording artist Mary Hopkin takes an orchestrated turn on The Puppy Song, while a previously-posted Victoria Williams deconstructs the song into something playfully delicate and warbly; Marc Cohn croons Turn on Your Radio as a slow, inimitable blues with soulful vocals and a Nilsson-esque wash of sound. Canadian folkie Reid Jamieson‘s lovely, lighthearted solo acoustic take on Nilsson obscurity Nobody Cares About The Railroads Anymore alone is worth the price of admission. The Asylum Street Spankers are their ragged, irreverent selves, bringing an eerie saw and some doo-wop vocals to an acoustic Think About Your Troubles off their children’s album Mommy Says No. And who could resist the indie folkrock of The Format to top things off? Enjoy.

As always, our inclusion of links to the above artists’ stores and homepages should be taken as a tacit urge to support the continued creation of artistic genius in our culture by buying music, directly from the artist wherever possible. Which is to say: buying this stuff from the musicians justifies our existence, and theirs, so do it.

What, more? I was tempted to drop a long list of covers of Everybody’s Talkin’ here to serve as today’s bonus coversongs, but we’ll save that for a future Single Song Sunday. Instead, I’m going to suggest that, as with many prolific artists who treat musical output as an avenue for genre exploration, Harry Nilsson’s diverse output includes more than a few tracks which reflect the trope and stripped down sound of modern folk, even if they are ultimately best classified as classic radio poprock in context. Here’s a few covers from Nilsson’s lighter side.

Cover Lay Down publishes new content Wednesdays, Sundays, and sometimes Fridays.

1,092 comments » | Asylum Street Spankers, Glen Phillips, Harry Nilsson, Marc Cohn, Mary Hopkin, Nickel Creek, Reid Jamieson, Steve Forbert, The Format, Victoria Williams