Anyone who read my recent interview with Chloe Foy will have probably figured out that I’m a fan. If you read to the end, you’ll know that I’m crying out for an album. So far Chloe’s career releases have been made up of fantastic singles and EPs that hint at a potentially huge career, and while it sounds like 2020 has pushed back some plans for a bigger release (Chloe was cagy on this in the interview, but I have kind of made my own mind up now,) we have recently been treated to two marvellous additions to her catalogue. The Live from Abbey House EP will be particularly pleasing to the fans. It features gorgeous renditions of four songs that many will be familiar with, but all four with stunning new arrangements that make them feel fresh and inviting. But it will perhaps be her Covers EP, released last Friday, that will make the biggest impact on her trajectory going forward.
Covers have become a big thing again towards the end of 2020. Forced indoors and away from collaborators and studios, it seems that many artists are looking at their music collection for inspiration and deciding to try and make their own mark on some of their personal favourites. I reviewed Rosie Carney’s The Bends just a few days ago. Marika Hackman released a full album of covers back in November, ranging from Radiohead and Elliot Smith to Grimes and Beyonce, and I have been spending an awful lot of time with that record. But I am usually lukewarm on covers. I find that, so often, they fail to make you forget the originals and fall flat because of this.
The reason I believe that Chloe Foy’s collection of covers could win her new fans is simple. It’s superb. But to be more specific it does, at least on a couple of impressive occasions, that thing that so many covers do not. It makes you feel like the songs are hers. To make my point here, I will mainly focus on the two songs that I already knew and loved from this five song EP. Firstly, The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’. This is a much-covered song, but I was extremely surprised to hear it as the opening song on this EP. Chloe’s career had led me to expect a selection of folk songs. But here, she takes one of The Cure’s most energetic and danceable songs and turns it into a gorgeous piano ballad. Beautiful and devastating in equal measures. Robert Smith writes lovely lyrics, but if I’m being honest this may be the first time I have been able to hear every word of one of his songs with such clarity. From Chloe, it has a haunting tone that I’ve never heard in the song before.
More impressive than this, though, is a song that I was even more surprised to find here. Nick Cave’s ‘Push The Sky Away’ is up there in the pantheon for me – probably my favourite song by him and a constant in my house. I don’t know that I’ve heard anyone cover it well before. But here, Chloe has put out the perfect song for 2020. While we’re all in the mire, they aren’t many more apt lyrics than the chorus to this song and Chloe manages to keep the dark tones of the original while also imbibing it with some real hope. I would think that anyone hearing the covers of these two songs would want to listen to more of her music.
The three other songs on the EP are less familiar to me in their original tone, but I particularly enjoy the cover of Whitney’s ‘No Woman.’ The fact that I am not really a fan of Velvet Underground (I know, I know) doesn’t hold me back from getting some pleasure from the version of ‘Sunday Morning’ here, but it does maybe prevent me from feeling the emotional pull I do from the two songs I have discussed in more detail. But I really love Chloe’s decision to end the EP with a cover of ‘Never Full Dressed’ from the musical Annie. This decision kind of sums up the EP for me. It is full of things that people who are familiar with Chloe’s work would not have expected and it indicates a bravery to take on a challenge and do something different. If you are not yet familiar with Chloe’s work, this impressive EP is a pretty good place to start. But please make sure to check out her original songs once you’re done.
Words by Fran Slater