My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers and Me


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My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers and Me Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

In spring 2020, AWOLNATION released their fourth LP, Angel Miners & the Lightning Riders, a catalog highlight about loss, recovery, and moving on. Unfortunately, that effort arrived just as the world was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, snuffing all promotion and effectively ending that album cycle. Stuck in lockdown, frontman Aaron Bruno processed the isolation and uncertainty by banding together with some famous friends for My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers, and Me. The nostalgic covers collection tackled a handful of classics, ranging from totally left-field choices like Madonna's "Material Girl'' with Taylor Hanson and Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" with rapper Hyro the Hero, to more understandable selections like "Drive" by the Cars and "Waiting Room" by Fugazi. With Beck by his side, Bruno perfectly executes his pensive take on the Alan Parsons Project's prog-pop hit "Eye in the Sky." Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning" is transformed into a fist-pumping, horn-blaring anthem with the help of Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, while Conor Mason of Nothing But Thieves duets with Bruno on Michael Sembello's frantic "Maniac" from Flashdance. While Bruno sticks mostly to the '80s, he briefly dips back and forth in time for a little generational variety. Recalling former band Under the Influence of Giants, he mines the '70s with a faithful take on ABBA's sunny "Take a Chance on Me" with a playful, teasing Jewel before plunging into the depths of human sadness with Gilbert O'Sullivan's heartbreaking "Alone Again" with Midland. Fast-forwarding to the '90s, Bruno offers the album's starkest transformation on the Harvey Danger one-hit wonder "Flagpole Sitta" with the help of Elohim, slowing the tempo and dropping it into a minor key like one of those spooky, haunted covers heard in a movie trailer. One of the most surprising moments -- delivered with the help of Portugal. The Man's John Gourley and Incubus' Brandon Boyd -- arrives midway through the album on "Wind of Change" by Scorpions. Every bit as contemplative and sweeping as the original, the track is so majestic and uplifting it sounds like "We Are the World" for the pandemic age. On the surface, My Echo might seem like a stopgap release between more "official" AWOL albums, but it's strong (and fun) enough on its own to merit attention.

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