Category: Reid Jamieson

More Tributes and Cover Compilations:
Shannon Whitworth and Barrett Smith, Reid Jamieson, The Big Bright & more!

November 10th, 2012 — 02:57 pm

Seems like only weeks since our four-part series on the coverlover’s bread and butter, the full tribute or covers album. But even before the usual spate of Xmas Coverfolk begins to tickle our fancy, the end of the year often brings delight in this category, and 2012 has been no exception, sending along a host of tight sets and sessions sure to warm the chilled heart of even the most jaded folkfan. Enjoy…

The most potent and poignant version of Paul Simon’s Duncan ever recorded; warm and well-crafted contemporary folk reconstructions of Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire, James Taylor’s You Can Close Your Eyes, and Paul Seibel’s Louise; a distinctively dark and moody You Are My Sunshine – new collaborators Shannon Whitworth and Barrett Smith, who have toured together but recorded as solo artists up until now, are at the top of their games. And though overall their brand new all-covers album Bring it on Home runs a diverse gamut from true contemporary folk to indie electro-acoustic soul (album-opener Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me; Van Morrison’s I’ll Be Your Lover, Too) and soft-as-smoke blues club balladry (Tom Waits’ Green Grass; Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Corcovado; old standard Moonglow), its heart is made of stunning folk gems, making it an easy competitor for the year’s best coverfolk album and causing several major upheavals in my ongoing list of favorite song covers.

Masterful production and arrangement here provide us with the perfect combination of comfort and revelation, making for a perfect late-night long drive soundtrack; it’s easy to believe that the album found inspiration in “a late-night tour drive across what seemed like all of Canada”. Gentle trumpet, uke, fiddle, banjo and saxophone flourishes lend just the right layers to the songs, showcasing strong and deliberate vocals, crisp guitars and pianos, and arrangements without disrupting the smooth track-to-track flow. And the combination of voices here is heavenly, with Strong and Whitworth’s equally intimate, equally weary voices trading lead and harmony in true duo form.

Bring It On Home drops November 20, but as a lucky recipient of an advance copy, I’ve had it stuck on repeat in the car for over a month – even my ten year old, whose tastes run towards pre-teen pop, finds the lush harmonies and rich instrumentation worth asking for over and over. Our highest recommendation, then: check out two tracks here, and stay tuned for a Single Song Sunday coming up in the next few weeks featuring a third.

We’re huge fans of Vancouver singer-songwriter Reid Jamieson here at Cover Lay Down, and I’d like to think the feeling is mutual: thanks to direct outreach from the recipient in question, we were the first to feature Songs of 69, his 2011 all-covers birthday tribute to his wife and muse, and we’ve also found great joy in his 2012 renditions of both Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On and the Canadian National Anthem, both of which were directly forwarded to us for sharing.

As we’ve heard in all those recent projects, Jamieson’s smilingly bright, sweet and gentle tenor and light touch on both instrumentation and arrangement lend themselves especially well to lighter fare – which is to say that although his back catalog includes more high-energy electricity than much of his recent output (his 2007 tribute to the songs of Elvis Presley, for example, is a true-blue honky-tonk romp), much of Reido’s recent output has been tonally consistent, both beautiful and smooth, with layered harmonies that teeter on the edge of sentimentality without tipping into cloy.

But when this self-proclaimed crooner gets serious, the results are even more powerful. And so we’re especially pleased to report that on Songs For A Winter’s Night, a brand new selection of winter-themed songs released November 9, heartwarming renditions of Gordon Lightfoot’s title track, Gene MacLellan’s Snowbird, Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper, 1984 Band Aid project Do They Know It’s Christmas?, and a trio of sweetly optimistic originals, among others, stand alongside a choice of several darker songs – most especially Tori Amos’ Winter, Steve Miller’s Winter Time, Bruce Cockburn’s The Coldest Night Of The Year, and Nick Lowe’s Freezing.

This combination of song choice and project premise makes Songs For A Winter’s Night an exceptional album from a long-time favorite: transformational, diverse, and consistent all at once. Reid’s prolific and generous heart rings through every track, making the album perfect romantic fare for the coming cold. Stream the whole thing on SoundCloud, and then head over to Reid’s site to buy physical or digital product and download an ever-growing compendium of beautiful coverage for the heart’s every season.

  • Reid Jamieson: Winter (orig. Tori Amos)

I’m generally wary about blogging and/or bragging about tracks and projects which are unavailable to you, the reader – after all, the whole point of our ongoing exploration is to share the work to support artists and their art. But here’s a pitch for artist support: back in 2011, as part of a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort to make her most recent album, Laura Cortese offered a collection of to-be-recorded covers to anyone willing to give at the $50 level; last week, Cortese finally finished the EP-length coverset in question and sent it along to the small, exclusive group of us who lent our support, and although technically it’s not designed to be available for public consumption, she granted me permission to share a song at a time, with the caveat that she probably won’t be recording any more covers for a while.

In order to balance the exclusivity of the reward with the opportunity to share, we’ll be eking these out over the next year or so; you’ll have to wait for Cortese’s haunting fiddletake on Emmylou Harris’ Boulder To Birmingham, an amazing version of The Beatles’ And Your Bird Can Sing recorded live with Session Americana, a sparse but electropunky mutation of Steve Earle’s I Ain’t Ever Satisfied, and a synth-and-fingersnap reinvention of Joni Mitchell’s California. But for now, here’s the first, with a promise of all of these eventually, and always more to come from our favorite fiddling singer-songwriter.

Previously on Cover Lay Down:

New covers project The Big Bright is still in the early stages, with just two official songs to their name; as such, it’s a bit of a stretch to consider them within a feature designed to showcase full albums and EPs of coverage. But the very premise that brings Ollabelle’s Glenn Patscha and Fiona McBain and “critically-acclaimed neo-noir singer/songwriter” Liz Tormes together is well within our mandate: The Big Bright was formed to pay tribute to 80s New Wave songs, and if the two songs they’ve released so far are any indication, their goal of finding the tender frailties hidden under the bombast of New Wave production is already well on its way to successful fruition.

The two tracks below, which currently represent the first and only official output from the trio, are unlabeled, underscoring the project’s novelty, but their transformation of INXS and Tears For Fears provide apt exemplars for both breadth and premise; as you’ll hear, this is true-blue indiefolk emocore – a bit of a surprise for those familiar with Ollabelle’s rootsy neotraditional output, but delightful all the same. Those in the NYC area will be pleased to hear that the band are in residence at The Rockwood every Monday for the month of November, offering three more chances to hear fuller sets from the trio; the rest of us will be eagerly awaiting more.

  • The Big Bright: Don’t Change (orig. INXS)

  • The Big Bright: Change (orig. Tears For Fears)

Finally, speaking of tribute albums: our search for second-generation artists willing to cover their fathers’ songs for our recently-announced charity “dream project” continues, with four nationally-recognized artists officially committed already. It’s way too early to name names, but suffice it to say that although I’m still hoping to hear from more of our 30 “dream team” members soon, I’m so excited about the generosity and talent of each and every one of these four incredible artists, it’s becoming quite difficult to keep the cat in the proverbial bag.

But by way of some not-so-subtle justification for saying so, allow me to note that a long discussion with a still-secret fifth potential contributor this week led to engineer, producer, house concert host, and studio-owner Neale Eckstein of Fox Run Studios, who has had a hand in enough cover videos to allow us to consider his body of work a series in and of itself.

Full disclosure mandates that I mention that Neale and I are already members of the mutual admiration club: he subscribes to this blog, and I’m a huge fan of his annual Falcon Ridge Folk Fest after-fest photo-and-music collages, which often show me dancing wildly at stageside, if you know where to look. But the work he’s done in presenting the below artists and their covers speaks for itself: each represents its artist exceptionally, while offering intimate and apt entry into their body of work. We’ll close out, then, with a trio of YouTube covers produced by Fox Run Studios, and note that BettySoo’s bluesy take on standard You Don’t Know Me, Cliff Eberhardt and James Lee Stanley’s Doors cover, a Prince cover from singer-songwriter KC Clifford, and more original and cover recordings from Antje Duvekot, Grace and Pierce Pettis, Bethel Steele, Cary Cooper, Matt Nakoa, Brother Sun, and others are available on the Fox Run YouTube page.

Emilia Ali: Edge of Seventeen (orig. Stevie Nicks)

Robin Batteau w/ Neale Eckstein: Heart Of The Matter (orig. Don Henley)

Ellis Paul: Crying (orig. Roy Orbison)

Before we compile our list of the year’s best tribute albums, cover compilations, and single tracks, Cover Lay Down wants to hear from YOU! Helping out is easy: just check out award criteria and categories for both Best Tribute Albums and Cover Collections of 2011 and our 2011 coverfolk mix of The Year’s Best Singles, use the sidebar to scour and sift through a year’s worth of archives, and leave a message in the comments below touting your favorite albums, EPs, and single tracks from 2012. And don’t forget to come back in a few weeks for news of new holiday compilations from Catie Curtis, The Sweetback Sisters, For Folk’s Sake, and more!

3 comments » | Compilations & Tribute Albums, Laura Cortese, 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