Cover songs tend to fall into one of two categories: Respectful treatments of canonical works (think Dave Grohl's recent performance of “Maybe I'm Amazed”) or punk versions of Top 40 hits that are done less to honor an original than to poke it in the eye. Weaned on this tradition, we were taken aback recently by the songwriter Jeremy Lee Given's (above) sincere cover of Sugar Ray's “Someday.”
As just about anyone can tell you, “Someday” is a 1999 ballad that haunts the playlists of chain restaurants and grandpa-friendly radio stations, making it ripe for a sneering, mocking, high-speed punk rock or metal cover.
Given ignores that timeworn impulse and goes in the opposite direction,
slowing down the song's relaxed tempo and emphasizing its breezy and
admittedly pleasant melody, a move that both skewers listener
expectations and rescues the song from the land of Guilty Pleasures.
What gives? Who is this guy to tamper with pop music orthodoxy? What is
he up to? We tracked him down to find out.
Along with the Sugar Ray cover, Given is responsible for Old Flames, the rare self-recorded album that doesn't sound like a self-recorded album. On tracks like Heartache,
Given proves himself a well-studied songwriter molded by legends like
Neil Young as well as current literary folk groups like Band of Horses.
Aiming for an authenticity that's been lost in the Pro Tools era, Given recorded Old Flames using
a variety of mad-scientist analog techniques, resulting in music that's
at once vintage and dynamic, like a 35 year-old pair of jeans that
miraculously never faded in the wash.
Given, a native of Knoxville and a film scoring major at Boston's Berklee College of Music, has earned friendly reviews for Old Flames and his latest effort, Abadabad, from music bloggers all over the world.
He's also completed the soundtrack for an independent film, Dead Dad, and continues to write and record between trips to Tennessee for trout fishing. Visit his Bandcamp page for “Someday,” Old Flames, and more.