Stina Nordenstam

People Are Strange

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The cover notes of People Are Strange state that the songs have been heard before. And at the first look, the choice of songs seems strange and brave, if not foolhardy, starting off with the somewhat overexposed "Sailing" sung to a simplistic piano and strings. This sets the tone, swerving far from the original versions. Track number three, only a half-minute long, mumbling, with a distant piano and an even more distant car passing, turns out to be Gram Parson's "Love Hurts." But one needs to check out the credits to be sure. Prince's classic "Purple Rain" is treated with total lack of respect, given sampled industrial sounds for drums and sung in a sad way, giving the song a completely new meaning without changing the lyrics. And this is what it is all about, and what maybe covers should be about -- giving songs a new meaning, making them all her own, as artists are so often called to do. Stina Nordenstam manages this in a way second only to Johnny Cash, though he does not need the samplers. The album also does the good deed of reviving songs that seemed totally dead. Even the original version of "Sailing" gets interesting to hear again after hearing it sung with the fragile whispering voice Nordenstam used on And She Closed Her Eyes. But on the total, this album has left the naïveté and girlishness of that album behind, as it has with the distorted guitars of Dynamite, keeping the melancholy.

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