Jay Brannan

In Living Cover

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Jay Brannan dives into his iPod collection with In Living Cover, a collection of cover songs and original material. The two original tunes featured here -- "Beautifully" and "Drowning" -- take their cues from the Lilith Fair school of songwriting, mixing bookish lyrics with bursts of acoustic guitar. The effect is reinforced by Brannan's voice, a somewhat androgynous tenor whose range and tone serve him well on the covers, too. Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco, and the Cranberries all serve as source material for Brannan's six cover songs, and he pays tribute to those artists with soft, acoustic renditions of their hits. When he ditches the acoustic guitar and performs DiFranco's "Both Hands" with an a cappella arrangement, the result is striking, due in no small part to his imaginative reinterpretation of the original. During songs like "The Freshman," however, In Living Cover sounds more like a Valentine's Day present from a doting boyfriend, with little flair in the performance and little imagination in the presentation. The Cranberries' "Zombie" fairs similarly, and this album ultimately emerges as an erratic project, its highlights spread too thinly to do much good.

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