I first downloaded Adele’s cover of the Raconteurs’ “Many Shades of Black” around the same time last summer that I first started listening to 19, so I always thought of it as a b-side to that album. I didn’t realize until later that the song was recorded as a b-side for the Raconteurs single, with Adele backed by Jack White and the Raconteurs themselves. It’s a great take on the song and a perfect example of Adele’s timelessly soulful vocal talent.
Adele – “Many Shades of Black” [Raconteurs cover] (mp3)
Adele also covered another Raconteurs song, “Steady As She Goes” at the BBC’s Radio 1’s Big Weekend last year. Notice Adele reading the lyrics from her BlackBerry as she performs:
A little background on this yet-to-be-released Sia track, “The Codependent”: Sia played this song at shows throughout her 2008 tour and mentioned it was written for an “animated pop project” (the Gorillaz come to mind, but details are pretty scarce) on which she collaborated with the Bird and the Bee’s Greg Kurstin.
Sia – “The Codependent” [live] (mp3)
Sia discussed the project with The Advocate last year:
“After about 50 grand worth of therapy, I got really happy and made this awesome, fun pop album called H Crusader,” Sia explains. The only problem was that her label wouldn’t release her upbeat record about a superhero. “They were like, ‘You’re a down-tempo artist, you’re going to confuse the fans.’ And I was like, ‘What fans?’ ” she says, unleashing a cackle. Bolstered by the “schoolteacher’s salary” she collects each year thanks to her contributions to Zero 7 albums and other TV and movie royalties, she refused to budge — and was dropped by her label.
Luckily, the success of “Breathe Me” led to Sia being signed by Starbucks’ Hear Music label. Sia’s said in several interviews the more upbeat sound of this track, more along the lines of Some People Have Real Problem’s bonus track “Buttons,” is the direction she hopes to take on her next album. No word on whether or not this animated project will constitute that album or be released as a separate project. Speaking of “Buttons,” here’s a great performance from Later…with Jools Holland:
Marcus Mumford accompanied Laura Marling during both of her performances I caught during SXSW, providing background vocals, percussion and accordion, sometimes simultaneously. One of the first things I did when I got home was to download everything I could find from his band, Mumford & Sons. Though they’ve yet to release a full-length album, but I’ve downloaded everything I’ve been able to find from the few EPs they’ve recorded. This song “Roll Away Your Stone” in particular has become a recent obsession. When I read that Laura Marling had covered it during her appearance on Morning Becomes Eclectic earlier this year, I went on the hunt to find the mp3. It doesn’t seem to be floating around anywhere so I went ahead and ripped it from NPR’s broadcast. The song suits her remarkably well:
Laura Marling – “Roll Away Your Stone” [Mumford & Sons cover] (mp3)
Also, here’s Laura Marling performing my favorite song from her own debut record, Alas I Cannot Swim, the lead track “Ghosts,” with Marcus Mumford on percussion:
Even with only one album under her belt, Adele’s got the kind of power in her voice that would make anyone a little timid about attempting to cover her. Turns out Santigold’s got the swagger necessary to give it a shot though, taking on what is arguably Adele’s best track to date, “Hometown Glory,” stripping it down to a gritty, chugging drumbeat and a single synth line. Doesn’t touch the original, but definitely makes it her own, and with covers that’s half the fun.
Santigold – “Hometown Glory” [Adele cover] (mp3)
If you’re not familiar with the original, here’s a great live performance from Adele: