We never really know what we’re going to get when one artist decides to cover another. (See: Johnny Cash on Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” on one end of the spectrum, Britney Spears singing “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” on the other.) But we can report that Peter Gabriel’s new album, Scratch My Back (available 2/16), in which he covers 12 songs by a variety of artists, is of the successful kind.
Gabriel puts his own interesting spin on each song, in many cases skipping traditional rock instruments like guitars and drums in favor of a more orchestral sound, turning each track—from artists that include David Bowie, Elbow, Talking Heads, Regina Spektor and Paul Simon— into something both intimate and grand. Standouts include the string-laden “The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields; Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” which takes on, if possible, even more melancholy undertones; and an epic rendition of Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is a Cage.” Apparently, the plan is for the artists included to participate in a “song swap,” in which they’ll cover something from the Gabriel discography, sure to be titled I’ll Scratch Yours. We can’t wait.
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