The Boston Globe’s amazing review of Sweetheart 2014

Check out The Boston Globe’s sterling review of the new album saying “this collection, featuring various artists mostly from the indie-rock realm, is surprisingly effective at dismantling love songs and reimagining them in fresh contexts.”

Cover songs with heart, soul on ‘Sweetheart 2014’

By James Reed | GLOBE STAFF | FEBRUARY 10, 2014

Right on time for Valentine’s Day soundtracks, “Sweetheart 2014” banks on a tried-and-true conceit: We love cover songs. And this collection, featuring various artists mostly from the indie-rock realm, is surprisingly effective at dismantling love songs and reimagining them in fresh contexts.

Too often artists who interpret songs treat the originals with so much reverence that they end up making carbon copies. Not so with this new compilation out on Hear Music, the Starbucks-affiliated label.

Ben Harper cuts through the haze of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” setting it against ghostly piano and a plaintive, stark vocal that gets right to the heart of the tearjerker. Also on piano, with two female backup singers cooing in the distance, Bahamas makes “Always on My Mind,” popularized by Willie Nelson, a celestial hymn to lost love. Fiona Apple and Maude Maggart, her sister, turn “I’m in the Middle of a Riddle,” an old novelty song, into a playful Latin American folk waltz on which their voices wrap gorgeously around each other.

Meanwhile, Brandi Carlile injects grit and a growl into “The Chain,” answering the never-asked question of what Fleetwood Mac would have sounded like in the ’70s with Bonnie Raitt at the helm. Beck puts a spectral spin on John Lennon’s “Love,” while Phosphorescent basks in the warm glow of Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is a Long Time.”

The only clunker is Vampire Weekend’s take on “Time to Say Goodbye (Con te partirò),” sung in Italian to match Andrea Bocelli’s performance of the operatic pop song. It’s so straight-faced that it coaxes an unintentional laugh on an album otherwise full of heart and soul. (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “Fade Into You”

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NPR First Listen: Full Album Stream of Sweetheart 2014 Live This Week!

NPR’s First Listen of “Sweetheart 2014” is live!

On the Sweetheart Searies, NPR states:
“Compiled by Starbucks every few years, the Sweetheart compilations adhere to a simple concept in which well-liked contemporary artists cover well-liked classic love songs just in time for Valentine’s Day. But, more importantly, the collections revolve around a refreshing and consistent mindset: There are no arch piss-takes, no goofs, no skirting sincerity with a wink and a sneer. Even when an effort feels like a minor pairing or a failed experiment, goodwill carries the day.”

To hear Sweetheart 2014 in its’ entirety, click here or visit NPR.org.

Stereogum Debuts Phosphorescent’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”

Need your weekly fix of Sweetheart 2014? Look no further than today’s track premiere of Phosphorescent’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” over at Stereogum.

“It’s still early, but this is already a big day for beardy indie bands covering Bob Dylan songs. First, we heard Built To Spill’s take on “Jokerman.” Now, we get Matthew Houck and Phosphorescent doing their rendition of “Tomorrow Is A Long Time,” a song that Dylan wrote and recorded early in his career but didn’t release until 1971′s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2….” –Stereogum

Click to read on and hear the track at Stereogum

Hear Ben Harper’s take on “Fade Into You” today at Consequence of Sound

Check out the Consequence of Sound track premiere of Ben Harper’s cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You” from the #Sweetheart2014 compilation due out February 4.

From the feature: “Ben Harper is known mainly for his guitar chops, but he’s putting down the axe for his contribution to Starbucks’ Sweetheart 2014 compilation album. Instead, he pulls up a piano stool and delivers a gentle cover of Mazzy Star’s 1994 single “Fade into You”.

It’s an interesting choice, considering the original version is driven as much by acoustic guitar as piano keys, but Harper is going for a different feel with his rendition…”

Read more and hear the new track at CoS here.

Photo credit: Eric Hendrikx

Fiona Apple debuts “I’m In The Middle Of A Riddle” at The Wall Street Journal!

From WSJ’s Speakeasy: “Coy love songs are not usually Fiona Apple’s forte, but she’s a natural on a new version of the vintage tune “I’m in the Middle of a Riddle” that Apple shares with her sister, the cabaret singer Maude Maggart. The song, premiering today on Speakeasy, is part of “Sweetheart 2014,” a Valentine’s Day compilation of classic love songs recorded by the likes of Jim JamesBeckVampire WeekendSharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and more.”

Read on and hear the new track here.

FionaApple_PublicityPhoto1_credit_LionelDeluy

The Fader debuts “I Hope” from Blake Mills

Check out the debut of Blake Mills’ “I Hope” today over at The Fader when you get a chance.

“Longing for better times, [Mills] sings, Sometime, somewhere/ We’re gonna meet again, I know/ And I won’t love you anymore/ I hope. Give it a cry below, then regain your composure with Vampire Weekend’s cheerier offering, a rendition of Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Con Te Partirò.'” –The Fader

http://www.thefader.com/2014/01/09/stream-blake-mills-i-hope-bobby-charles-cover-starbucks-love-songs/#ixzz2pvrMf6on”>Read more

Enter-to-Win Your Copy!

Wanna win a free copy of the new album? We’ve got ya’ covered!

Just enter your email addy below and click submit. Too easy! We’ll pick 5 winners randomly on February 4th. Enter now to win and we’ll hit you back if you’re a winner.

Good luck!

Sweetheart 2014 – An Extraordinary Musical Valentine

Adventurous Valentine’s Day Collection Features Contributions By Jim James, Vampire Weekend, Fiona Apple, Phosphorescent, Brandi Carlile, Beck, The Head and the Heart, Ben Harper, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Valerie June, Blake Mills, Bahamas and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

For Immediate Release – December 11th, 2013 – Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes Sweetheart 2014, a collection of indelible, handpicked covers from a remarkable group of modern musical dreamers who artfully grapple, in one way or another, with that most vexing of subject to ever befall mankind, L.O.V.E. Sweetheart 2014 (Hear Music/Concord Music Group) will be available on CD exclusively at Starbucks and all digital outlets beginning February 4th, 2014.

The fifth in a series created exclusively for Starbucks, Sweetheart 2014 features 13 all-new recordings by Jim James, Vampire Weekend, Fiona Apple, Phosphorescent, Brandi Carlile, Beck, The Head and the Heart, Ben Harper, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Valerie June, Blake Mills, Bahamas and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. The eclectic performances also serve as a love letter to the essential songwriters covered here. Jim James’ soulful turn on Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” Beck’s mournful version of John Lennon’s “Love,” Fiona Apple and her sister, cabaret singer Maude Maggart’s imaginative rendering of Anton Karas’ “I’m in the Middle of a Riddle,” Phosphorescent’s luminous cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” and Vampire Weekend’s superlative interpretation of “Time to Say Goodbye [Con te partirò]” made famous by Andrew Bocelli, are just a few examples.

The absorbing performances also include Bahamas’ meditative version of Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind,” Thao & the Get Down Stay Down’s cover of Ray Charles’ “If You Were Mine,” Ben Harper’s intense translation of Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You,” Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ rave up of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” Brandi Carlile’s paean to Fleetwood Mac with “The Chain,” Blake Mills’ singular stamp on Bobby Charles and Stanley Lewis’s “I Hope,” The Head and the Heart’s adaptation of Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me” and Valerie June doing the Carter Family proud on “Happy or Lonesome.”

Its clear each performer brought something very personal to this project. “I chose this song from Nilsson ‘Don’t Forget Me’ because I had recently lost touch with a very important person in my life,” confides Head and the Heart singer Josiah Johnson, its swelling strings bringing to mind the music of a bygone time.

Phosphorescent mastermind, Alabama native Matthew Houck, reflected on Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is a Long Time,” “It’s one of the most longing songs I’ve ever heard. It’s special that such a slight thing can carry so much emotion in just a few lines and chords.” Houck’s haunting version leaves a similarly wistful impression.

Ben Harper says of his minimalist piano reworking of Mazzy Star’s alt-rock classic “Fade Into You,” “My friend Jason Yates played piano on the original, so I always listened to that part closely. It’s one of my favorite songs and I’ve wanted to cover it forever.”

The charming waltz “I’m in the Middle of a Riddle” is another one of Sweetheart’s gems. Fiona Apple and Maude Maggart’s sibling harmonies transport the listener back in time. Viennese zither player Anton Karas, best known for his sound track to 1949’s The Third Man, wrote the song and Sweetheart contributor Blake Mills produced the track and played all the instruments.

Vampire Weekend’s version of “Time to Say Goodbye (Con te partirò),” made famous by the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, is another grand eccentricity. Calling it “one of the greatest love songs of all time,” front man Ezra Koenig attests, “Its beauty transcends language.” Vampire Weekend transform the “poperatic” mega-hit with a deft, old school electronic rhythm and ultra-romantic Italian vocals.

For his part, Jim James is unequivocal about the meaning of Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” stating simply, “This song is the sound of love.” He makes it his own with the signature resonance Rolling Stone once described as “echo-drenched spirituality.” Beck, meanwhile, sings and plays guitar, bass, drums and particularly affecting piano on the Plastic Ono Band-era Lennon classic “Love.” The outing recalls Beck’s own Sea Change.

It’s Valerie June, however, who may have the last word on love. The Memphis-born folk/blues/soul performer lends her supernatural presence to a rendition of the Carter Family’s 1934 classic “Happy or Lonesome.” “In every moment of true love, there are moments of parting,” she says. “The story of this song is sweetness and hopefulness even though we can’t hold on to those we love forever. Wild hearts must run free. But nothing of loving is ever lost – it only changes form.” It’s the perfect distillation of Sweetheart 2014’s many splendored charms.

Sweetheart 2014 Track List:
1. Turn Your Lights Down Low – Jim James (5:00)
2. Time to Say Goodbye (Con te partirò) – Vampire Weekend (3:14)
3. Love – Beck (3:16)
4. Tomorrow Is a Long Time – Phosphorescent (4:19)
5. Don’t Forget Me – The Head and the Heart (4:08)
6. Happy Or Lonesome – Valerie June (1:53)
7. Always on My Mind – Bahamas (4:16)
8. If You Were Mine – Thao & the Get Down Stay Down (2:47)
9. Fade Into You – Ben Harper (4:30)
10. I’m In The Middle Of A Riddle – Fiona Apple featuring Maude Maggart (2:38)
11. The Chain – Brandi Carlile (4:17)
12. I Hope – Blake Mills (3:08)
13. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (2:36)

Executive Producers: Holly Hinton and Matt Marshall

Website: www.sweetheartalbum.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sweetheartalbum
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sweetheartalbum