Susannah Hoffs and Matthew Sweet, pop icons from the ‘80s and ’90s respectively, have proven to be the perfect pair to re-examine the music of earlier decades. They first took on the ‘60s with the immensely true Under the Covers Vol. 1, and now they have placed the microscope on the ‘70s with Under the Covers Vol.2.
But first it should be made clear that Hoffs and Sweet are a near-perfect combination. The saccharine charm of the former Bangle melds perfectly with the sharp, witty Sweet, so much so that the couple could turn television commercials into spry, energized hits. Together, they resuscitated each composition, shaking off the dust with renewed vigor.
The reading of Carly Simons’ “You’re So Vain” brims with lush contempt, Hoffs’ verses and each dueted chorus taking the original to new depths. Harmony reigns on Yes’ “I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People,” and Little Feat’s “Willin’” exudes homespun commitment. But the crowning track of this album is Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me,” the stunning AM ambiance ringing true through Sweet’s smoky tone and Hoffs’ sultry delivery.
The pieces are all here – artists that sound made for each other, classic songs, and reverence for the originals – and worked up into a collection that far exceeds cover-song fare. The Under the Covers series is proving to be an undeniable joy, and Volume 2 is not only one of the best cover albums of the year, it is truly one of this year’s best releases.
Under the Covers Vol. 2 is out now on Shout! Factory.