Dana Gavanski’s five-song covers EP is a lovely folk journey in which she pays homage, reinvents, retools and introduces the wider world to songs which she has in her heart
MORPHIC resonance is one of those curious little theories out on the borders of the scientifically credible that nevertheless contain intriguing possibilities.
Simply put, it states that once something enters the realms of the possible and probable, it’s infinitely more likely for that idea to begin occurring elsewhere; an illustration is that when comes time for something, there’s always two versions of it under way somewhere and often quite independently. Hence, disciples of the theory think there’s a steam engine time; even a video-cassette time (hence the simultaneous emergence of both VHS and betamax, proponents of the theory hold).
Well then: in accordance with this theory, this August must be time for interesting, diverse five-track cover version EPs from the north Americas. We’ve already reviewed and enjoyed Black Marble’s I Must Be Living Twice, a musician and also a lifer in terms of music fandom, who’s gathered together Wire, The Field Mice and others to recast in his own mould (read our review here); and now we have a gorgeous five-track 12” by Canadian-Serbian songstress of much beauty, Dana Gavanski.
Your humble writer only recently came across Dana, and that in her guesting on Fair Mothers’ textural wyrd-folk odyssey, “Birds & Bees & Tiny Fleas” which you, know, we raved about. You should hear that album. But let us move on to the quintet of covers we have in hand.
She opens with an incredible, sun-warmed and languid take on King Crimson’s “I Talk To The Wind” and pulls what is already a quite laidback, hippyish tune firmly into her world – and for me, improves it. She loses some of that proggy guitar indulgence and makes it a precise and beautiful vehicle for her mellifluous tones, everything recorded intimately close. She sits it firmly in Espers/Meg Baird country, and it finds itself absolutely at home there. It’s quite delicious.
She sucker-punches with her double-cover, as it were, of Chic’s “At Last I Am Free”, drawing hard on the definitive Robert Wyatt take. It’s hard to escape the DNA of Robert Wyatt, which is buried so deep in the cadence of any song he himself took on; and actually you don’t need to. Cover versions range across a huge spectrum, from homage to iconoclastic destruction; and her version is very lovely. We can place it toward the former end of the spectrum and that’s absolutely fine.
“Never Too Far” was recorded by the massively underrated late-60s’ artist Tim Hardin (you haven’t heard “Part of the Wind”?), which is a tough call, with his unique sibilant vocal style. But she takes it off for a spin into a very fine and almost European elegance, with bah-bah-bah vocals and gorgeous guitars. It maintains the effortless airiness that Tim seemed to bring to his best work while at the same time making it a great contemporary female folk-rock tune.
For “Jano Mome” Dana steps back to her Eastern European roots – it’s a traditional folk song of the Balkans, which she tackles with beauty and appreciation as a two-part harmony, a cappella. Flushes of reverb give it a little psych edge. Again, elegant.
Her final cover of the quintet, a take on the great Judee Sill’s “Kiss”, brings out a gently psychedelic, electronic waltz, over which Dana by turns swoops, caresses, intones. It must be the sort of song you’d adore to sing if you had this degree of vocal talent: the declamation, the melody, the call to sing high and pull that melody into otherly shapes. Towards the end of the six-minute journey the organ yaws into a minor dischord that fades to leave her harmonising with herself in the final seconds, breathy, clear.
Dana’s five-song covers EP is a lovely folk journey in which she pays homage, reinvents, retools and introduces the wider world to songs which she has in her heart; and that’s no mean achievement over a 12” of some 21 minutes. The strength and caress of her voice and her particular folk aesthetic make it quite the delight. Necessarily, it’s a short story, as it were, in her canon, a beautiful backwater; I’m looking forward to hearing her new album, hearing her in full flow.
Dana Gavanski’s Wind Songs EP will be released on digital and strictly limited 12” formats this coming Friday, August 14th. To order yours, visit her Bandcamp page.