What do Talking Heads, Pat Benatar, Lionel Ritchie and Cyndi Lauper have in common? Well nothing probably, except that they each get the cover treatment from Ciaran Lavery in his latest EP ‘Other People Wrote These’. This is the follow up to his début album ‘Not Nearly Dark’ and sees him move into material that is far removed from his previous works as he attempts to give some ’80s gems a folk makeover.
Perhaps the most well-known song covered is All Night Long by Lionel Ritchie. Lavery’s interpretation is a complete revamp and the tune is barely recognisable from Mr Ritchie’s more upbeat version. Ciaran has mentioned in the past that he likes songs with minimum frills and this is just what he offers us here. He has slowed down the tempo with the main emphasis being on the percussion as he growls out the chorus. It might not be as catchy as the original but the slow delivery of the lyrics puts renewed emphasis on the message of the song.
Elsewhere on the EP, we get a version of I Drove all Night, originally recorded by Cyndi Lauper but arguably made more famous by Roy Orbison for whom it was originally intended. It’s rare to find a fresh interpretation of such an iconic piece of music, yet here Ciaran manages to do so. Stripping it and making a banjo the lead instrument, it takes a couple of listens to even realise the source material. Approaching the chorus the band comes together and the piece lifts off. All the while, the vocal reins it in and pierces the music with a tension that isn’t all that apparent in the original but adds an extra layer to the version of the song featured here.
Cover albums are always an interesting prospect and here we find a balance between paying homage to source material like the version of Psycho Killer and complete re-imaginings like All Night Long. If you have listened to any of the covers that Duke Special has done over the years then this EP is right up your alley. Taking a fresh approach to old material is always a challenge but here Lavery rises to the occasion and even challenges the originals at times.