Love Canon – Cover Story
Over the past eight years, Love Canon has gradually picked up the torch of Appalachian bluegrass, carrying on one of the region’s oldest traditions. The band’s latest release, Cover Story, is a nine-track effort consisting of guest-filled bluegrass versions of ‘80s pop classics. Love Canon enlists an all-star cast of musicians, including Jerry Douglas, Mark Erelli, Erik Krasno, Keller Williams and more to assist on this bold project. In Cover Story, the band deftly replaces the swelling synths, which defined an era and sent music down a new path, with pristine string arrangements, while paying homage to the improvement in the studio production of vocals that occurred in the ‘80s.
A fitting opener for the record, the band begins by tackling the beautiful, flittering instrumental portion of Billy Joel’s “Prelude (Angry Young Man).” Love Canon follows up with a spine-tingling arrangement of Howard Jones’ “Things Can Only Get Better,” including a round robin section of funky solos. World renowned dobro player Jerry Douglas shreds a solo on Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie Eleison.” Paul Simon’s “Graceland” was made for a bluegrass cover, and the band absolutely nailed it with help from Michael Cleveland (fiddle) and Aoife O’Donovan (vocals). The band enlists Lauren Balthrop to join in on the classic duet “Islands in the Stream,” as well as John D’earth (trumpet) and Bobby Read (tenor sax) to provide a little extra flavor. Colin Kilalea beautifully picks the melody of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” on a nylon string guitar. Fluttering mandolin and banjo solos bridge this hauntingly beautiful new wave tune. The band brings on Mark Erelli for lead vocals on Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” and adds in a little surprise on the tail end of the tune. Love Canon throws a real curveball on Squeeze’s “Tempted” by giving Erik Krasno the mic for both lead and backing vocals. You can’t have Erik Krasno on a song and not give him a guitar, so Krasno places a beautiful electric guitar solo in the tune, while Daniel Clarke plays the Wurlitzer piano. Finally, Keller Williams takes the lead on R.E.M.’s “Driver 8” which, aside from a purely masterful performance from start to finish, features an epic break into the solo section.
What more can I say? Love Canon took this project head on did an incredible job. They even kept the spirit of the ‘80s in their album cover, designing it after a Rolling Stone magazine cover. Cover Story was released on July 13, 2018 and is available on all major platforms. Love Canon consists of Jesse Harper (guitar, vocals), Adam Larrabee (banjo, vocals), Darrell Muller (bass, vocals), Andy Thacker (mandolin, vocals) and Jay Starling (resonator guitar, vocals). Alex Hargreaves regularly joins the band on tour and plays the fiddle on most of the album.