Nellie McKay, My Weekly Reader – Hooray, it’s Nellie’s first album in almost five years! And it’s all covers, which is kind of disappointing, because I really like her as a songwriter. That said, her voice, a mixture of cute and sincere, is also a significant part of her appeal. (My wife doesn’t like Nellie’s voice, but I guess there no accounting for taste.) These are all songs from the 1960s, or at least that became popular in the sixties, and Nellie made some interesting selections. Sure, there’s a Beatles song and a fair amount of social protest stuff, but also some less obvious candidates. I didn’t know all of the songs she covered, but I liked the ones she did. It starts out with the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” on the subject of the idle rich, something Nellie has sung about in her own songs. She also covers two of my favorite jaunty songs with lyrics about breaking up, “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “Red Rubber Ball.” Come to think of it, Nellie’s own sarcastic masterpiece “Mother of Pearl” has kind of a similar style to “Mrs. Brown.” I didn’t know “Hungry Freaks, Daddy,” but it’s actually a Frank Zappa song, and Nellie’s version features Frank’s son Dweezil on guitar.
Right now, I’m listening to Erin McKeown’s 2013 release Manifestra, which I might cover in a later post. “Cover” as in “write about,” that is, not as in performing it myself. I guess Nellie and Erin are similar in having an old-fashioned style despite being younger than I am.