“Love Anew…” Those are the first words in the liner notes of Sweetheart, this fabulous compilation brought to you by Hear Music on XM Satellite Radio. I say this because this CD reflects the amazing night I had on Valentine’s with an amazing woman. It’s eerie how sometimes art reflects our own lives. Sometimes we watch a movie or a TV Show and there’s a scene that so similar to something that we are going through ourselves. The same can be said for novels and of course, music.
So this brings me to Sweetheart, one of the true rare finds released for those love birds on the most romantic day of the year. Take fifteen of some of the most timeless love songs ever and hear them all remade some of this generation’s most gifted young artists. Sweetheart starts off with an amazing version of “My Funny Valentine” by Rufus Wainwright. I first heard Rufus sing this on Valentine’s Day a few years ago on Letterman. That version remains unreleased, but Rufus re-recorded it with Rob Burger on piano. Turn down lights down low, light a candle and let Rufus put you in the mood; a most excellent way to start of a CD.
Portland, Oregon’s very own M. Ward returns from his critically acclaimed lo-fi epic Transfiguration of Vincent to remake Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door.” Ward slows down the song and adds a remarkable pedal steel guitar riffs courtesy of Paul Brainard. The steel makes the song a post-modern classic.
Some other highlights are Calexico’s version of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Michal Gira, of the Swans, and his versions recorded in the ’80s is still my favorite, but, Calexico mix Gira’s acoustic version with Joy Division’s upbeat Manchester sound.
Speaking Madchester, wait till you hear Joesph Arthur’s remake of The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” Recorded with Jeff Buckley’s former flame Joan Wasser on violin, this version does right Morrissey and Marr’s classic. Probably one of the best Smiths covers ever, and what a voice by Joesph Arthur—maybe he should remake the whole The Queen is Dead. Yes, he is that good.
Some more gems include Neko Case with her sweet voice doing justice to Bob by covering the Dylan classic “Buckets of Rain;” Madeleine Peyroux’s doing her best Billie Holliday with her take on Lillian “Lil” Green’s “Give your Mama a Smile;” and my favorite — Martina Topley-Bird doing a 21st Century doo-wop version of The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You.” I can’t forget Jim White’s reading of Bill Withers’ hit “Use Me.” White transforms Withers’ soul vibe into his banjo-fueled modern-day Americana sound.