My Weekly Reader
In a world where Amanda Palmer’s shameless guerrilla marketing papers over the lack of defined talent and where Gen-Y Twee Pin-up Zooey Deschanel gets to cross mediums without offering anything much wherever she goes (free to roam) it’s a breath of fresh air to return to Nellie McKay. I fell for her debut album, an audacious double – and then I forgot about her, a bit. She’s done shows and had songs on soundtracks, she’s performed, and continued to release albums and following on from a tribute to Doris Day (well, there was another album of originals in there too) we have this collection of covers, songs from the 1960s.
What a wonderful set of songs – the selection is exquisite. Along with chestnuts (Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park, The Beatles’ If I Fell and The Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon) we get lesser known/forgotten/obscure gems (Alan Price, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Frank Zappa).
And here are songs that work in this new context – Poor People, Murder In My Heart For The Judge – there’s a subtle anger in represented/recontextualising these songs here, showing that as much as things have (allegedly) changed they’ve also (very much) stayed the same.
Kudos too for offering up The Seekers’ Red Rubber Ball – no hint of irony or twee or faux-naiveté or humour; just a song that deserves a hearing.
And if we don’t need to hear another rendition of Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying we do need to hear another version of The CSN staple, Wooden Ships. McKay’s fans might long for more originals from her but as long as she’s this capable when it comes to interpretations, to reinterpreting pop and rock songs so much so as to turn them on their ear (and find a new way in to our ears) there’s really no difference between McKay’s own musical worlds and the ones – here – she so freely, happily inhabits.
Here’s a singer and musician and performer who can go anywhere, do (almost) anything. And here – very much so – is the proof. The latest proof. She’s sadly somewhat under-discovered as an album-artist. That needs to change. This should be where that starts.