It is fair to say that Tracy Chapman is an artist whose songs have been covered more than most artists. And one of the most popular for artists to put their own spin on is Give Me One Reason. Everyone from Eric Clapton to Leslie West (he of Mountain fame) have reimagined it; style-wise, it has been rendered into everything from bluesy grooves to a capella purity.
I always say that if you are going to cover a song, there are two routes to take. Either you opt for a faithful rendition, or you bring something totally new to the table. Shar stays closer to the original than most have, but some cool subtleties mark the song out as her own unique take on proceedings. The drums are busier, bringing a dancier, bluesier groove to things, and the guitar work is slightly heavier, again moving the song into the more rootsy and raw-edged territory. But for all that, Shar stays true to the spirit of the song.
The vocals are similarly intimate, echoing the original vibe, which in turn seems to owe much, in spirit at least to the old soul-blues divas of times past, the likes of Etta and Ella and Billie, and the music echoes with the same space and deftness that made the original such a cool cookie in the first place.
I guess doing justice to a classic song is not just about understanding how the music fits together it is about understanding why the song was written in the first place, relating to what is being projected through the song, relating to the artist, or, in short, getting the vibe right. And that is most definitely what is happening here.
I don’t often take with people covering classic songs, but the world is definitely a better place for Shar’s take on this, and that is all the justification you need.