Songbook by Mia Doi Todd

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

I wouldn’t normally review an album of all covers but these are done so exquisitely and uniquely that you would hardly know they were covers. Mia Doi Todd incorporates a spectrum of artists in this collection from the Average White Band to Neil Young and everything in between. And I do mean everything. It isn’t easy to pick songs from so many different genres and make them work. But Todd does this with precision. As I have mentioned in earlier reviews, any Neil Young cover immediately piques my curiosity. Track 1 is Only Love Can Break Your Heart, so I was reeled in from the very beginning. It does not disappoint. Todd’s vocals are superb and I think Mr. Young will be proud. Oh, and Track 8 is Pancho And Lefty, a Townes Van Zandt song that was covered by legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. This song is musical royalty and a very tough one to cover and cover well. Next to Master Townes’ version, I think Todd’s is my second favorite. I know that may be blasphemy, but I never did like the arrangement of Willie and Merle’s version. That Casio organ in the beginning and the karaoke sound of their arrangement always turned me off a bit. Todd’s vocals and arrangement are perfect and she does this classic proud. Not any easy feat.

 Todd’s interpretation of When Doves Cry is absolutely sensual. She takes this song and makes it her own. She gives it a dreamy quality that works exceptionally well. A little bit of electronica modernizes this song a bit. Between The Bars (Track 4) is another stunner and hard to imagine that this is an Elliott Smith cover. Todd’s voice and arrangement is so original that she completely transforms this number. This is an astonishing release and will be playing a lot in my house in the near future. You all should buy this so you can do the same.

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