Michael Carpenter

Soop #1: Songs of Other People

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Michael Carpenter's sophomore album, Hopefulness, ended with a pair of covers, so it doesn't seem surprising that Carpenter followed it up only five months later with a full-length covers album. Michael Carpenter has always worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to his influences, whether its '60s pop like the Beatles, the Monkees, or the Zombies, or rootsy rock & roll like Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen. That means that Soop#1: Songs of Other People is an effective tribute to the influential work of this handful of artists. Carpenter doesn't drastically rework any of the songs -- though listeners wouldn't expect him to, given his penchant for earnest pop/rock -- but he does lovingly update each with his own production and performances. Some of them better their originals, particularly the more rock-based reworking of the Beach Boys' "Wild Honey." Carpenter's song choices are intriguing as well; while he covers a fairly basic group of artists, he often makes less-obvious choices of which song to use within each artist's catalog. That means that Bruce Springsteen's aching "I Wish I Were Blind" and Tom Petty's unfortunately overlooked "Kings Highway" are chosen over more predictable tracks. All 12 tracks manage to gel cohesively into an album -- making them feel as if they always belonged together -- and that's part of the loving craftsmanship that Carpenter exhibits throughout this release. (Soop#1: Songs of Other People is a limited-edition 500-copy run. Each copy comes hand-numbered and autographed by Carpenter himself.)

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