Songs I Like But Did Not Write Vol. 1 (ep)
(Independent / Bandcamp)
I’ve long been a fan of Lisa Crawley’s music – and part of her story, always, has been the work she’s done as a singer-for-hire, covers bands, weddings, piano bars, musicals; you only get to put your own songs out into the world if you can afford to record them and if there’s a demand, so in and around that and as a means to make it happen there’s been the aforementioned work, the gigging world of a professional music. Not an unusual story of course but I like the way that Crawley has worn that fact as a badge – with pride.
Here she picks a few favourite covers to give her distinct treatment to – solo piano renditions of pop and rock hits from the 1970s through to the early 00s.
The bookending tracks are Blondie songs. We open with One Way Or Another and close with Heart of Glass. One Way’s stalker-y intentions are revealed with the slow, solo treatment. I’m not sure that’s entirely the intention and the dramatic read works well.
But to me a better song for this treatment is I Better Be Quiet Now (originally by Elliott Smith). I say that purely because to me Smith’s canon is worth shining a light on and I guess I feel like Blondie’s music is well known and loved already. But as the title of this EP tells us – it is about Crawley’s favourite songs to cover, songs she feels connected to despite not writing them. Tantalisingly there’s that “Vol. 1” coda to the title, teasing that there’ll be another volume (or three or four).
The hopefully-instated moratorium on covers of Hallelujah has singer/songwriters reaching to other corners of Leonard Cohen’s catalogue – and of course it’s an embarrassment of riches. So Long, Marianne is another song I probably thought I didn’t need to hear again in any sort of new version…right up until hearing Lisa Crawley’s lovely rendition. This has a Norah Jones-like feel to it. There’s a bit of Bic Runga too. Which I’ve always noted in Crawley’s performances.
That extends over to the one Kiwi cover here – a version of Goodshirt’s Fiji Baby and the breathy voice and solo piano treatment works very well, rebirthing the song.
Then it’s to Heart of Glass for the finish. Here’s where we hear another great feature of Crawley’s voice, the Kiwi accent – meaking it heart of GLARSE rather than GL-ASS. I like that.