Thursday, August 7, 2014

Covered Up: Julia Holter - "Don't Make Me Over"

Julia Holter – “Don’t Make Me Over” (Dionne Warwick)
Domino, 2014

Julia Holter’s most recent albums—2012’s Ekstasis and 2013’s Loud City Song—are what gets classified as “bedtime music” in my brain. Both are fascinating, inventive works that can hold their own against the experimental vocal pop of Bjork, Kate Bush, and Laurie Anderson; but I am a broken man. I am too impatient to seriously sit and listen to record that need to be seriously sat and listened to. Loud City Song has so much going for it! Not only does it feel like a a scintillating blend of the three above mentioned artists, but there is an obvious vitality surging through that record. It took a cover song to understand that, as is often the case. I have discovered (or come to understand) so many artists based on covers they’ve performed or other bands covering their songs. Julia Holter’s cover of the Dionne Warwick classic “Don’t Make Me Over” is a sleepy showstopper. You can hear every single syllable rolling off her tongue, and in her voice you can hear the entire history of female vocal pop music unfolding. There’s an obvious adoration of 60s R&B (also evidenced by the b-side and Loud City Song album track, the Barbara Lewis cover “Hello Stranger”) but you can hear shades of Nico and Dusty Springfield too. Like any great cover, Holter’s spare rendition of “Don’t Make Me Over” preserves the essence of the original while putting her own stamp on it.

Here's Dionne Warwick's original, penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

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