Some people tend to be incredibly turned off by covers that drastically vary from the original, but my mentality is that, love it or hate it, a cover that sharply contrasts with the original is the kind most worth going for, and the kind most worth hearing.
This is a theory that I think is well-proven by the newest release from alternative rock band Bootstraps, Homage. The album is precisely that: an homage, covering a variety of artists from a disparity of genres while still making each song its own.
An album that seeks to cover artists like The Weeknd, Gillian Welch, and Tom Petty all in one fell swoop sounds like a strange endeavor, but Homage comes together as a cohesive record; if you hadn’t heard any of the original songs before, you’d think the songs were all written by Bootstraps. Echoed guitar and soft piano perfectly accompany vocalist Jordan Beckett’s haunting voice, making the album a mellow, atmospheric experience, and one that certainly merits a few listens to fully appreciate.
The album includes their cover of Alice Boman’s “Waiting,” released as a single in 2015, a building, passionate plea that is a true highlight on the album. It also includes their cover of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” previously featured on Grey’s Anatomy and The Voice, transforming Whitney Houston’s pop hit into an emotional piano ballad.
Homage doesn’t falter in its execution, but possibly the best-executed piece of the album is in its conclusion, a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” I’ve always been fond of the original myself, and as classic a song as it is, it’s a challenge to cover it in an effective way. Yet Bootstraps pulls off its soft, ambient rendition beautifully, giving it a degree of finality and emotion the concludes the album perfectly.
The songs on the album may not have been written by Bootstraps, but by no means does Homage feel like a rehash. It’s a transformative, interesting record, and it’s fully evident that Bootstraps really put their souls into its creation.