Double Dippers, Vol. 2: Singer-songwriters visit & revisit
Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, The Beatles, Paul Simon & Greg Brown!
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On our end, as part of the rejuvenation efforts that we commit to each year as summer arrives, we’re picking up the pace with a set of new and favorite thematic approaches to the ethnographic exercise of tracking craft and culture through coverage. Our newest feature series finds us focusing on artists who pay tribute to favorite songwriters through coverage twice over, in two distinct phases of their careers. Previously, in our inaugural edition, we took the analytical lens to homage from Mark Erelli, Richard Shindell, Amos Lee, Lucy Kaplansky, and Old Crow Medicine Show; today, we find an all-female cast of Kasey Chambers, Shawn Colvin, Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls, and Red Molly exploring the works of their own peers and progenitors, revealing along the way the substance of their own artistic evolutions.
- Dead Ringer Band: Just Want To See You So Bad (orig. Lucinda Williams) 
- Kasey Chambers: Changed The Locks (orig. Lucinda Williams) 
- We introduced Aussie alt-country firebrand Kasey Chambers through coverage way back in our first few months on the web via her tender, raw, tear-enducing take on Crowded House hit Better Be Home Soon. But Chamber’s penchant for coverage pre-dates our own: her wailing version of Lucinda Williams’ Changed The Locks may not come off as folk, but it has been a staple of her set since the turn of the century, and for good reason, as multiple live recordings can attest to. And the recording of Lucinda’s Just Wanted to See You So Bad from her early days with Chambers family band the Dead Ringer Band is delightful on its own merits, with a potent country beat and a lighthearted youthfulness of its own that’ll make you want to two-step.
- Red Molly: Caleb Meyer (orig. Gillian Welch) [ 2006]
- Red Molly: Dear Someone (orig. Gillian Welch) 
Red Molly – a trio formed in the wee-hour campfire hills of Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and long celebrated by its membership – channel the fan coverage of the fields more than anything; in addition to a single-album Mark Erelli double-dip on 2011 release Light In The Sky, they’ve covered Gillian Welch four times on three albums, and Susan Werner twice again, making them easy pickings for our series. The retirement of founding member Carolann Solebello two years ago, and the subsequent addition of one-time opening act Molly Venter, was bittersweet, but it also marked a key moment in the band’s ongoing evolution from raw and real to pure and sweet; though it’s somewhat anomalous in a folk canon, it’s their a capella version of Dear Someone that best reveals the shift in blend, especially when put up against their earliest live harmonies.
- Shawn Colvin: In My Life (orig. The Beatles) 
- Shawn Colvin: I’ll Be Back (orig. The Beatles) 
Singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin‘s move towards Adult Contemporary both before and since 1998 Song of the Year and Record of the Year Grammy wins for Sunny Came Home has taken her far from the tiny stage of Cambridge, MA folk club Passim where I first saw her in my high school days, and farther, still, from her origins in the Greenwich Village Fast Folk crowd alongside Suzanne Vega, John Gorka, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, and others often touted on these virtual pages. Her two Beatles covers bear the scars and strengths of that journey; though in each case, the high production value and carefully nuanced vocals shine almost blindingly bright, the slow, layered minor-key atmospheres of I’ll Be Back stand in stark contrast with the melodic pop promise she revived for In My Life.
- Ani DiFranco: The Poet Game (orig. Greg Brown) 
- Ani DiFranco: Lord I Have Made You A Place In My Heart (orig. Greg Brown) 
If the point of this series is to show artistic evolution over time, then selecting two covers released in the same year seems anathema to our cause; better, perhaps, to try to justify Ani DiFranco’s Which Side Are You On as a cover of Pete Seeger greatest hit despite its origin in the union-supportive work of Florence Reece, and compare her 2011 title track with the less acoustically challenging tack she took in 1998 in covering My Name Is Lisa Kalvelage, another of Seeger’s political anthems, on a two-disc tribute to the godfather of participatory sing-along banjofolk. But the equally politicized Ani DiFranco has long embraced her folk roots, and hearing Ani live has always been a wholly different experience from hearing her studio work: though it’s rarer, today, to hear the edgy folkrock sharpness she brought to her earlier albums, we still get the same little girl wryness, with the slow ebb and flow of rhythmic elements making way for something more fluid and experimental, perhaps even less stable, on stage, as in the 2002 DVD release cut above. That Greg Brown himself is known for the wink-and-nod approach makes his songbook and her performance a perfect pairing, too.
- Indigo Girls: American Tune (orig. Paul Simon) 
- Indigo Girls: Mrs Robinson (orig. Simon & Garfunkel) 
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers met in elementary school, started playing together in high school, and took the name Indigo Girls while attending Emory University together in the eighties; given their shared history, it would be odd indeed if their influences did not overlap significantly. But their choices of song are especially notable here in exploring the nuanced revelations of the double-dip: though the later coverage calls back to Simon’s youthful duo work on the fringes of his own early pop experimentation, its high production, cheerfully upbeat tone, and driving folk-pop momentum aptly represent the duo’s later turn towards the celebratory in sound and sentiment, standing in strong contrast to the hoarse, stripped-down suffering that so characterized their early work.
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