Duncan Sheik: Covers 80’s


Duncan Sheik
Covers 80’s
(Sneaky Records)

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To many who grew up in the 90’s, myself included, Duncan Sheik is best remembered for his single “Barely Breathing.” However, he’s had no dearth of material since. For those with a bit of nostalgia or just curiosity about his current output, Covers 80’s is the perfect in.

This isn’t your usual selection of cover songs. Sheik has gathered a selection of mostly upbeat, synthy, new wave and post-punk classics only to give them an acoustic makeover. The result strips these tunes of the elements that haven’t necessarily aged well, giving the material new life from a source who obviously has great respect for the source material.

Rachael Yamagata and Holly Brook provide delicate vocals that help to flesh out Sheik’s sound. Unconventional covers have been done repeatedly by singer/songwriters, but Sheik brings in multiple instruments and collaborators to maintain the songs’ overall sounds rather than just the lyrics.

Highlights include Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” with an inspired banjo solo, Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now” with haunting accompaniment, New Order’s “Love Vigilantes,” redone to sound like an indictment on America’s current wars abroad, and Tears for Fears’ “Shout” presented in a much more subdued, whispered fashion.

Children of the 80’s and the 90’s can find something to love about this album. It proves that Sheik is a talented performer with ideas of his own, and I know I’ll be looking forward and backwards in his career for more that I’ve overlooked.

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