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Review by Michael McKenna
PA Music Scene
June 2011

Covers 80s is Sheik’s personal take on his early musical influences such as The Smiths, Tears for Fears,  Dépêche Mode, Thompson Twins, New Order, The Cure, and Love and Rockets. The CD features 12 highly personalized takes on the decade’s smashes and lesser known gems. The album features guest vocals from Rachael Yamagata & Holly Brook. Singer-songwriter turned Broadway composer Duncan Sheik reinterprets 80s alternative and synthpop classics which will include new versions of his old favorites.

Covers 80’s includes the tracks “Stripped”, “Hold Me Now”, “Love Vigilantes”, “Kyoto Song”, “What is Love”, “So Alive”, “Shout”, “Gentlemen Take Polaroids”, “Life’s What You Make It”, “William, It Was Really Nothing”, “Stay” and “The Ghost In You”.

His first release from the CD “Stripped”, originally by the Deprece Mode, is done with a nice touch. His vocals are clean and refreshing and his acoustic prowess is highlighted on this track. Duncan keeps it simple with some nice backing vocals. The strings are the highlight of this amazing tune! The Thompson Twins hit “Hold Me Now” is tastefully done. The tempo change adds so much more to this song. “Love Vigilantes” originally by New Order sounds amazing as an acoustic number. Duncan’s vocals are excellent and the added backing vocals by the ladies add that little extra. The Cure’s “Kyoto Song” is way cool. The amount of feeling that this tune exudes is way cool. Howard Jones “What is Love” is nice as a ballad. This change gives new meaning to this song. The piano work is simple, but full sounding. “So Alive” by Love and Rockets presents a new vision of why this song was originally written about. Well Done!

“Shout” by Tears for Fears features some nice synth and acoustic guitar work, the multiple vocals sound really neat. This is a rather decent version of this classic! “Gentleman Take Polaroids” from Japan is one of those obscure numbers that get a nice renovation with some nice island type effects and the ever-present synth strains.  Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It” is a complete change from the original. The harmonies are smoking and the keys are a killer. Fantastic sound! “William, It Was Really Nothing” from The Smiths takes this 84 release to another plane of existence. This recomposition is so refreshing! The Blue Nile’s “Stay” is another obscure number that is so much of a change from the pop sounding 80’s version. I like the way Duncan just pours himself into this tune. “The Ghost in You” from The Psychedelic Furs gets a great big WOW! I like what has been done here with this revamped version of one of my favorite 80’s songs.

If you are a fan of the 80’s, you will like these remakes to a more middle-of-the-road sound. Duncan Sheik does justice to every single track on this CD! His clean, exacting but powerful vocals combined with an acoustic sound make this CD a wonderful listen! I give this 2 THUMBS UP!

Scheduled to appear at the World Café in Philadelphia on June 12th, Duncan will be performing these new tracks plus some of his more recognizable tunes like his smash hit “Barely Breathing” from 1996 and tunes from his 8 previous CD’s The CD is scheduled to drop on June 6th!