Singer-songwriter Jann Arden's star has dimmed in the United States since her Lilith Fair era heyday; like her cohorts Lisa Loeb and Jewel, she's even taken to reality television hosting gigs to help pay the bills, and 2007's Uncover Me was only released in her native Canada. That's a shame, because as all-covers records go, this is a fine example of the form. Some of Arden's song choices are perhaps a bit obvious -- the Mamas & the Papas' "California" Dreamin'," Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," and Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" were not calling for new interpretations -- but throughout the album, she resists the twin urges that doom this kind of project, neither slavishly imitating the originals nor going for bizarre, forced re-interpretations that go so far out of their way not to sound like the familiar tunes that she might as well have simply written new songs. Instead, she merely approaches all ten songs as if they were new Jann Arden originals, delivered in her uncomplicated, conversational vocal style over glossy but not sterile or overfilled arrangements. There are some truly inspired song choices in the realm of familiar songs that one wouldn't expect to show up on this sort of disc, such as a kicky take on Petula Clark's "Downtown" that retains the hint of melancholy that underscores the original, a downright spooky version of Janis Ian's "At Seventeen," and a sneering version of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" that sounds more like a lost Liz Phair track. The most inspired covers, however, are the bracing "Bring the Boys Home," Freda Payne's anti-Vietnam powerhouse that's sadly all too relevant during the Iraq war, and an inspired reworking of Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" that strips all the cheese out of the original (including that hysterically campy video) and transforms it into a tense, haunted meditation on a toxic love affair. It's songs like those that make covers albums worthwhile, and Uncover Me, for its faults, is overall quite satisfying.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason