Review Summary: Gavin Castleton does justice to these nine classics by straying the line between staying true to the original song and making them his own.
I have never been a big fan of covers...especially studio recordings of covers. I have always felt (and preached in my own band) that audience members pay to hear/see YOU, not you pretending to be another artist.). So imagine my horror when my favorite artist, who could do no wrong in my eyes decided to release a cover album. I mean, his youtube video covers were awesome-mainly because he would do them with a loop pedal and in one take- but an entire album!" So put off by the ideas of covers I didn't even attempt to listen to this album for months. I finally listened to some tracks posted on youtube and fell in love with one, leading to a friend hooking me up with the album.
Let's just say I need to give Gavin the full price of this album, as it changes my mind completely about covers. Straying the line perfectly between "staying true to the original" and "making the song his own" this album is mind boggingly good. One of the better examples of his creative touches is the "Come To Me" cover (originally by Bjork). Gavin keeps much of the original atmosphere and melodies, but throws them over a fat dubstep drum and bass rhythm. It's a bit shocking at first, but after repeated listens it all falls into place. Another standout, Ben (do I even need to say who did the original) is probably the song I was most worried about. I rate the original to be one of better songs of the century, and believe that the song could only get worse if attempted by somebody else. While this version of Ben won't bring birth to another king of pop, it definitely deserves respect. Rather than try to (and most likely fail to) capture MJ's vocal performance from the original, Gavin instead gives the song a more complex piano line, providing emotion where his voice can not.
The only real complaint I have with this album, is the lack of full production techniques. The drums sound cheesy at times, and sometimes I feel myself wishing for more "sound" from a song. This is made up for usually with a really nice fat bass synth sound present on most of the songs, giving the songs the "oomph" that the drums and limited instrumentation can't.
This album once again shows Gavin Castleton should be much more famous than the other Gavin (Degraw) and should be making the big bucks with other pop stars. There's no real weak track here, and the mood from track to track flows perfectly (surprisingly for a cover album). From the opening bells of Imagine to the closing piano notes of Ben the album brings you along for the ride.