Folk-Noir covers of Buckley classics
A tribute album to Tim and Jeff Buckley just sounds like a bad idea, doesn't it? It's The Buckleys for goodness sake - two of the most highly respected and popular singer-songwriters of the last few decades, achieving titles of "legendary" and "cult-hero" respectively. Why would you want to piss around with that?
Tribute albums are notoriously tricky things to get right anyway. Remember "Killer Queen - A Tribute to Queen" from last year? Nor me - I had to get onto Amazon to find something suitably heinous as evidence for this review. Here's a couple of questions for ya: One - Does the world really need another Queen album? Two - Does the world really need a Queen album that features Joss Stone performing "Under Pressure", Sum 41 performing "Killer Queen" and most offensively of all, Constantine Maroulis (From American Idol) and the cast of "We Will Rock You" (from Paris) performing "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Answers: One - No - all you need is the first Greatest Hits album and you're pretty much covered. Two - No. No, no, no, no, no, no, NO. Some things should just be left well enough alone - especially by American Idol contestants.
Hinson hails from Tennessee and is billed as "Folk-Noir" - a term that I have no idea how to deconstruct. Does he walk around dimly-lit rainy streets in downtown LA, pretending to be a private detective but ruining it all by wearing flares and puffing on a joint? I don't think so. Anyway, I suppose I'd better stop waffling and get down to business...
The original Jeff Buckley version of "Yard Of Blonde Girls" is a languid, lumbering beast, which is dominated by a thick-as-treacle guitar and serves to showcase Buckley's delicate but seductively confrontational timbre. It might not be perfect, (the lyrics are a muddled mess of lackadaisical musing and pernickety social commentary) but it's a damn sight better than Hinson's.
Beginning with a single voice and guitar, Hinson's crackly voice should be perfectly suited to the material but instead it sounds deliberately softened and the wailing banjos in the background sound like they've come straight out of a Casio keyboard. It all builds to a multi-track festival of pain, as layer upon layer of vocals and instruments are added into the mix. It's all far too suffocating to listen to.
Worse than this is Hinson's reinterpretation of Tim Buckley's "Pleasant Street", which starts off sounding like one of the poorer tracks on Todd Rundgren's recent "Liars" album. With its electropop sensibilities, it immediately annoys before transmogrifying into a Easy Listening/AOR chorus of such banality that the raw and visceral sentiment of Buckley, T's original is lost.
If you're a die-hard fan of both the Buckleys and a completist, you might buy this just to hear how it sounds. Your choice - but I reckon you'd be better off spending the money on a new stapler.