An unexpected offering in the mails today. Longtime RSTB fave Grace Cummings has straddled the line between scarred folk and pop for a while, with her first album still standing as a classic of austerity that burns the mind on every listen. As her excellent, early 2022 album Storm Queen is firmly locked down for the year-end list, she’s ostensibly giving a bump to those who missed out with a cover that nods nostalgic for anyone who lived through 1998. There were few corners of the Earth not somehow soundtracked by the summer of Big Beat and Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” was just a touch less ubiquitous than the surf strains of “The Rockefeller Skank.”
Notably, Norman Cook has always been pretty open about his respect for the source material on this one, Camille Yarbrough’s “Take Yo Praise.” His song borrows so heavily from the source material that it’s something of a cover itself. For her take, Cummings pulls from both the original’s solid, soul-tinged funk and the latter’s more dancefloor focused production, creating a hybrid that recasts Yarborough’s original in a heavier glow without all the explosive plasticity of the ‘90s. In the end it gives some of the same vibes as Ella Fitzgerald’s Beatles covers — familiar in a way that surfaces like muddled memories. The mix of classic and kitsch works well here, taking a song that’s become something of a nostalgia staple and washing it clean for 2022. If you’ve missed out on Cummings’ excellent Storm Queen, I recommend a listen.
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