This an enjoyable set of 12 covers brought to fruition by Sam Beam, the guy who is Iron & Wine, and Ben Bridwell, one of the driving forces behind Band of Horses. It’s titled after a line in the Talking Heads’ song, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody),” the tune the pair chose to open the album. Beam and Bridwell distill the essential elements of the song — it’s very lightness being — down to it’s core, then rebuild it with a sense of ease and youthfulness akin to the '60s folk songs we heard from the likes of Melanie and Peter, Paul & Mary.
They dug deep into the rock and roll canon to find “Done This One Before,” a tune originally released by Ronnie Lane in 1974 as the B-side to his first single, “How Come.” There’s a bit of Nashville Skyline in their arrangement, laced with rambling piano and accentuated with flourishes of steel guitar. Beam and Bridwell harmonize beautifully on Paul Siebel’s “Anyday Woman” (best known from Bonnie Raitt’s cover) and make nice work of John Cale’s “You Know More Than I Know,” presenting it against a backdrop of cascading pianos and lightly tempered harmonies.
The pair don’t hesitate to experiment a little, as with the reverberating vocals on Cale’s “Magnolia” and freeform bass clarinet lines on El Perro Del Mar’s “God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get).” Those choices don’t always serve the songs to their fullest — they tend to distract from the inherent beauty of the words and melodies — but there’s enough restraint in the mix to keep them from getting too heavy-hearted.
When all is said and done, the eras and areas from which these songs come — Nashville in the '60s, LA in the '70s, New York in the '80s — remain at the core of these recordings. Beam and Bridwell stay honorable to the originals, sift them through unqiue musical personalities and make a record that's pretty enjoyable.
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