Tuesday, June 11, 2013

If You Wait Long Enough: Songs of Will Stratton (2013)

Last year, singer/songwriter Will Stratton put out his incredibly sprawling masterpiece Post-Empire. It was an album I had nothing but good things to say about since a stray tweet from Knox Road brought Stratton to my attention; it was inarguably a great album that paired Stratton's fingerstyle guitar with elegant string arrangements of his own design and while it was a fully realized album near to my heart, I was excited to get more from the former Brooklyn based singer/songwriter. Then following a successful European tour, Stratton got sick. Really sick. Stratton had stage III cancer. While fortunately Stratton's been able to get better, there are some hefty medical bills on  the horizon as the life of a touring musician doesn't exactly include a health insurance plan. 

Besides being an incredibly gifted songwriter, Will Stratton happens to be a rather cool dude and good friend. Perhaps that's why some of his musician friends recorded a covers albums of Stratton's songs to help raise funds for Stratton. You don't do that for someone unlikable. Enter If You Wait Long Enough: Song of Will Stratton, the benefit covers compilation made by said friends. 12 songs, 12 bands, with the bonus of a Will Stratton live track. 

One of my favorite things about the compilation is the fact that I'm not at all familiar with the bands on it. It might seem weird for your first impression of a band to be formed based on a cover and yet here we are. While about half of the album's tracks are Post-Empire era tracks, the other half happen to be a career-spanning endeavor; Brooklyn trio Jane Eyre's Jesse Rifkin performing the only track from Stratton's debut record What the Night Said.  It's really interesting to see what the band's do with the songs. One of my favorites being the glitchy, dream-pop variation of Alexandra Drewchin and Aaron Roche's "Post-Empire" take. Also of note is the rather dark rumble of Wilder Maker's "The War is Over". 

As far as covers albums are concerned, If You Wait Long Enough: Songs of Will Stratton is a rather enjoyable affair. The covers themselves helping to highlight a lot of Stratton's strengths in his own music-making. The covers are great and that's because the bands had such great material to draw from. It helps that the album isn't just a collection of one-note guitar and voice impressions of Will. Whether you live what they do or not, a lot of the covers use the source material as a base and go their own way with it. It creates a bit of interesting variation like the aforementioned Jesse Rifkin cover of "Katydid" which becomes a dance-pop jam.  The covers aren't just hit-it-and-quit-it kind of enjoyable either. I actually found myself going back to several of them that I really really liked making a mental note to check out that artist/band when all was 
said and done. That's the best thing a covers album can aspire to, right? 

You can purchase If You Wait Long Enough: Songs of Will Stratton on Bandcamp which I strongly recommend because not only is the covers album rather good, it all goes to benefit Will Stratton who is a very very nice guy and clearly an inspiring friend. Do it. 

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