Jack and Amanda Palmer – You Got Me Singing

Amanda Palmer
has always been a very assiduous creative figure, intent on exploring
art, occasionally confronting both the macabre and the taboo. Following
her last studio effort, 2012’s Theatre Is Evil,
the singer/songwriter has taken a decidedly bittersweet turn,
delivering an album of cherished cover songs in a wonderful folk-laced
vein recorded with her father, Jack Palmer. Opening the record is the title track and a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s
“You Got Me Singing” — something that seems an obvious choice as it
appears to encapsulate the project for both father and daughter
entirely. Beautifully delivered, both father and daughter complement
each other’s vocals extremely well. Amanda‘s
unmistakably soft yet commanding voice melds well with her father’s
dulcet tones. What is apparent throughout is just how much of a
delightfully mixed bag the song choices are. Early on we’re given
“Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” a children’s poem, and here we get an early
taste of the general instrumentation and overall sound throughout the
album; Amanda‘s
hushed lullaby vocals sit nicely atop her father’s storybook singing,
surrounded by warm, arpeggiated guitar chords and resonant, ringing
glockenspiels. It’s clear that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree
when listening to Jack Palmer‘s
delivery. His voice is as compelling as his daughter’s, evident on
songs such as “Louise Was Not Half Bad,” a deathly country song in which
his vocals seemingly nod to the late Johnny Cash,
rumbling throughout each verse, while the odd flutter of tropical
guitar notes traverses each chorus. A palpable highlight is a version of
Sinéad O’Connor‘s “Black Boys on Mopeds.” You can tell through Amanda‘s
voice here that it’s an important song for her. The song’s
stripped-back nature of just voice, mandolin, and the occasional backup
vocal of soothing humming really is the perfect example of how a song
can be more with less; uncluttered and simple, it’s a shining part of
the record. Another arresting moment is a version of Phil Ochs‘ protest song “In the Heat of the Summer,” in which Jack
slightly altered the lyrics. Knowing that the song was originally
written in response to the 1964 Harlem riots, the track feels all too
terrifyingly current when you absorb lyrics such as “Another black kid
face-down in the road/Whose life did not seem to matter,” sadly
translating as a reminder of how little progress has been made in terms
of tackling social division. It’s definitely worth noting that the
production throughout is warm and crisp, and at times it feels like
you’re the sole attendee of a live living-room set. It’s with this in
mind that a lot of the tracks feel very close and intimate, while at the
same time the use of reverb provides a rich sense of scale. Ultimately,
one of the things understood is that for an album of cover songs, the
result still feels entirely personal and held dear when hearing the
father and daughter pay tribute to their inspirations together.

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