Karen Elson treats us to a selection of covers from ABBA to Robyn in her new EP, Radio Redhead, Vol. 1.
As 2020 draws to a close, a wind-down on albums can be expected. However, that doesn’t mean having to sacrifice new music, as Karen Elson’s EP Radio Redhead, Vol. 1 demonstrates. This intimate collection of song covers is short but sweet – the perfect antidote to what has been a long, difficult year.
The EP opens with a stripped-back cover of Cher’s Believe and does not disappoint. The song works well with Elson’s breathy vocals, with little more than an acoustic guitar and some piano chords to accompany the melody, which in turn takes on a more melancholy tone compared to the original. It’s the sort of arrangement that you could imagine in a romance film – the breakup scene, that is.
Next, we come onto Lay All Your Love On Me – quite possibly the only cover that has ever made me come close to liking an ABBA song. Whilst the vocals are occasionally in danger of being overshadowed by the slightly heavier background instrumentation, overall this cover is a delight: the rhythmic guitar, the country-sounding riffs, and the synthesisers all make for an enjoyable few minutes of music.
Elson’s cover of Elton John’s Sacrifice continues in the same vein as Believe but sounds even more vulnerable, with just Elson and the piano. Elson’s vocals come through very clearly in this one, a passionate, exposed arrangement that certainly embodies the phrase ‘less is more.’ Meanwhile, the sad factor continues in the wistful rendition of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own. The longing in this song can truly be heard in Elson’s plaintive tone as she sings, accompanied by the simple instrumentation that occurs frequently throughout the EP.
Finally, the collection of covers ends with a comparatively upbeat version of Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, finishing the EP on a more optimistic note. The choice of song is appropriate considering the increasingly dismal, pandemic-induced circumstances that much of the world still finds itself in and, as Elson herself says, “We’ll Meet Again really feels like the impetus to this entire Radio Redhead project. It feels so poignant for the times that we’re in: with COVID, with so many of us being separated from friends and family, it just felt like the right song to sing at this time.”
On the whole, Radio Redhead, Vol. 1 from Karen Elson is a pleasant collection of covers, each well-suited to Elson’s voice. While there is certainly an overarching style to the entire EP, the songs are different enough to keep the listener interested, piquing our interest in what may follow in the future.