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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shearwater - The Covers Album, 12 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Fellow Travelers (Audio CD)
Covers album often have a "stop-gap" vibe to them no matter how good the source material. In the case of Shearwater it seems that the bands inspirational leader Jonathan Meiburg has sought a twist on the old concept by producing a set of reinventions and collaborations with bands they've toured with over the past decade. Full marks then for the concept but what about the music? As ever Meiburg's voice throughout the album is a thing of wonder. Shearwater often have the label "operatic" attached to their music because of his shimmering tenor and an ability to gloriously hit the vocal heights with unique interpretative passion. The album is economical at around 30 minutes and does contain one original song namely the duet with the wonderful Sharon Van Etten "A Wake For The Minotaur." Unsurprisingly it is one of the strongest on this short album not least since it bear the hallmarks of classic Shearwater with a delicate Meiburg vocal over slow acoustics, and combined with Van Etten's dulcet tones it is a rare beauty. We also have Shearwater covering Coldplay which might seem an unlikely pairing but the version of one of their lesser known songs "Hurts like Heaven" is very well done. Despite appearances to the contrary Meiburg has never worried about tackling hard rock and the song most heavily promoted from "Fellow Travellers" has been the cover of Xiu Xiu's "I love the Valley Girl OH!!". That bands frontman frontman Jamie Stewart and Meiburg have teamed up to form a new band called Blue Water White Death and while "Valley Girl" is not an outright triumph it grows considerably on repeated listens.

There are a couple of misfires. The jangling straightforward cover of St Vincent's "Cheerleader" doesn't really add to the original while the Clinic cover "Tomorrow" is fine but this reviewer is not sure that it such a great song in the first place. All these minor point however disappear on immaculate covers such as the gorgeous version of David Thomas Broughtons sumptuous "Ambiguity", the plaintive Wye Oak cover "Mary is Mary" and a great highlight Meiburg's version of Baptist Generals' "F@@ked Up Life." It could be argued that as a covers album this is not an essential addition to the Shearwater oeuvre, yet if you have a passing acquaintance with this great band you would be doing them a disservice to miss this one. It certainly is not heir greatest album but there is enough on "Fellow Travellers" to keep you fully interested for Meiburg's next musical outpouring and a number of songs present which will be seen as Shearwater essentials with the passage of time.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Dec 2013 19:45:12 GMT
Ghostgrey51 says:
Good clear review on the tricky subject of a band doing an album of covers. Thanks
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