this is another vinyl entry straight away – one that had to happen now; in fact, it should have been first. though i have many vinyl albums, this was my reason for finally getting a good record player.
it’s amazing how retelling can change songs from the original that didn’t enamour me into ones that are suddenly more remarkable. and how the person who had first made this music could improve on it. still others are faithful, including a couple of moments when the young singers sound a little like will himself.
it starts with that true likeness to the music (rather than voice), through the ramshackle banjo and simple tambourine percussion (now it all makes sense, john) on the gallery singers’ take of idle hands are the devil’s playthings. it makes you feel as though you’re there in the room with the players. it has always been an immediate song.
perhaps the most affecting cover is cheyenne mize (who’s had benefit of playing with will) doing the cellar song. it is beautiful and ever so appropriate to hear her sing those words. a kind of improvement on the original, actually.
merida by tender mercy is also an understated version that sounds almost more suited to its structure and content than the original. that also goes for king me (one of my favourites from the original) as performed by lydia burrell (a band, not a person). i love these versions.
by far the most gorgeous of the sketches is o lord are you in need from the promo (below), which is different to the version that appears on the album (also lovely, but not as emotionally affecting as in the vid).
it ends, of course, with bonnie, such as he is, singing about “his” brother on o, paul. again, his own slight reinterpretation of a piece of simple music, 20 years old, is stunning and makes me love all that much more.
it’s the authority on which to end. it’s almost frightening to know it has been that long. and yet, it has not felt like one whole generation has passed. people’s children are grown, we are older and feeling it. yet hearing these songs brought forward makes me feel like it was yesterday.
thank you ever so much, john, for bringing this back to us. i’ve spun it, and it was a totally new journey.