Essential New Releases: Under The Covers

Essential New Releases

You may recall seeing several Canadian artists releasing cover versions of popular tunes as summer arrived last year – we were very impressed by the “Coverama” album featuring a variety of (mostly) Toronto-based musicians putting unique spins on indie-pop tunes.  Fast-forward back to the present day, and it seems there are no shortage of covers hitting the airwaves once again. Plenty of choices, so little space – here are a handful of great new takes on old tunes that caught our attention. As always, we’ll let the music do the talking, and keep our musings concise, promise.

NQ Arbuckle, “All Apologies”

The long-awaited arrival of new tunes from Toronto band NQ Arbuckle made for a great start to the summer, but we were not at all prepared for the inclusion of this folk-grunge Nirvana hit during that inaugural spin. Neville Quinlan has often been dubbed ‘the Canadian John Prine’ – thanks to his lyrical mastery – but now pulls off a pretty impressive Kurt Cobain tribute. We know Neville has the raspy vocal chops to make this work, but stamps his own identity with synth and banjo accompaniments.

Hauterive, “Woman In Love”

Popular Quebecois folk artists Mara Trembley and Catherine Durand both dropped several hints of an exciting new venture on their social media pages earlier this year – ultimately teaming up to record as a duo under the name Hauterive. Eager to give this album a whirl upon its release last month, not only were we surprised to find some English language tunes, we also never expected a potent vintage country interpretation of this (Bee Gees composed) Barbra Streisand hit. Eerie and beautiful both.

Stephen Fearing, “Early Morning Rain (Live)”

Okay, long-time fans of this BC troubadour will be quick to point out that Stephen recorded this popular Gordon Lightfoot hit a decade ago, found as the closing track on his “Between Hurricanes” album. That is indeed true, but here in 2023, Stephen not only adds this as the closer to his latest “Vejpoesi” album, but records the entire second side of this new album live in concert at The Mule Spinner in Hamilton, ON. A last-minute decision to record the performance – the authenticity of this version shines through.

Laila Biali, “Bye Bye Blackbird”

Okay, we know that you are tapping your feet in time, and singing along to these recognizable tunes by now, and likely don’t want these covers to end.  Well, good news – with our final selection today, we literally have YOU covered! Everybody loves jazz standards, and Toronto-based JUNO-Award winning artist Laila Biali not only shares this popular number (Peggy Lee/Ella Fitzgerald), but devotes her entire new “Your Requests” album to a collection of covers and reimagined tunes. Go spin it now – we insist.

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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