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Thorn makes other people's songs his own on new all-cover album

Read our story on Paul Thorn here.

 

'What The Hell Is Goin' On?'

Paul Thorn

www.paulthorn.com

Perpetual Obscurity/Thirty Tigers

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the marks of a great cover song is how well the artist makes the song his own. Not everybody can do it. They come off as bad imitators or they mangle the song beyond recognition in trying to sound different.

Paul Thorn's new album, "What The Hell Is Goin' On?" is an entire album of cover songs Thorn has turned into his own -- so much so that you might think they were his to begin with.

To be sure, the Mississippi singer/songwriter took the less traveled route. He chose songs from successful and critically acclaimed songwriters, but maybe ones not instantly recognizable to the masses. Allen Toussaint, Eli "Paperboy" Reed and Ray Wylie Hubbard are a long way from undiscovered, but not everybody who listens to Thorn is going to have an old copy of "Buckingham Nicks," Lindsey Buckingham's wildly unsuccessful 1973 album with then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks, lying around.

Thorn's choices make it harder for casual listeners to compare his versions to the originals, if anyone bothers to try. His take on this collection of songs is entertaining and meshes well with the singer/songwriter's own catalog of songs. In some cases, he's added a layer to a song that might have been lacking. His cover of Hubbard's "Snake Farm," for instance, seems to make the tune a bit more good-naturedly lurid and low rent.

"What The Hell Is Goin' On?" sounds like a 100 percent original Thorn album, which is a neat trick since it's not. It will be released May 8.


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