Beck Song Reader
Warby Parke /EMI
Beck’s Song Reader is a gimmick project that grows less and less interesting with every new purchasable product it stems, the latest of which is this misguided collection of pseudo-covers.
It’s hard to say who the album is aimed at. It’s certainly not for Beck fans, who would presumably want a little more eclecticism and are yet to hear the original versions of these songs (although Beck does supply the Sea Change-esque Heaven’s Ladder). It’s that missing eclecticism which makes the collection a disappointment.
The first 10 tracks here are cut from the same cloth, boiling down Beck and his songs to their purest form – laidback country. It’s the result of having either too much reverence for the source material or not enough original thought to make the songs shine. For the second half the source material is used more like a jumping off point, with artists performing closer to their usual style. The results are as eclectic as Beck’s halcyon days. Jarvis Cocker provides melodrama, Jason Isbell provides ragged Southern rock, and somehow Jack Black pulls off the album highlight in sea shanty, We All Wear Cloaks.
So if you’re a fan of any of the artists in the second half, this might be worthwhile. Otherwise, wait for the inevitable Song Reader album proper.