Song Reader – Various Artists

Beck’s 2012 project ‘Song Reader’ finds form as an full album as a great number of artists come together to contribute towards the project. The compilation album boasts some great names under its belt, including the likes of Jack White, Laura Marling, Jarvis Cocker and even Jack Black. As an album, there’s a fair amount to enjoy from ‘Song Reader’, which takes the brilliant writing style of Beck, and finds itself interpreted in a great number of ways from a great number of artists. For the most part it’s all rather interesting, though as a full album experience the whole thing is somewhat lacking from time to time.

The interesting thing about the whole ‘Song Reader’ project is the interpretative quality to the songs themselves. There’s no point of reference for the actual songs, giving artists the freedom to really experiment with it all and present it in their own style. We can certainly hear this on the ‘Song Reader’ album, where each and every artist adds their own little thing to the various tracks. For the most part it’s all rather interesting as we’re presented with an interesting range of styles and concepts. A nice portion of the tracks come across as very enjoyable songs, showing some real great interpretations of Beck’s original concept.

Whilst some of the featured artists add some nice ideas to the songs, a few don’t really come across as all that interesting, and when presented as a large compilation album, it feels a little dull at times. The whole compilation seems a little scattered from time to time, with there being too many average and/or dull songs and not enough really great interpretations. There doesn’t even seem to be much to enjoy about the whole album itself, and instead one just looks forward to seeing if the next artist did anything interesting with the song they chose.

Whilst ‘Song Reader’ is an interesting project, the now accompanying album is perhaps a little too flawed. Certain tracks on the compilation don’t seem to really come across as all that interesting, and whilst others are certainly good, they’re hardly the best songs the respective artists have actually released. The whole ‘Song Reader’ project is highly interesting, and it’s nice to hear such great artists contributing towards the project, though as an album it doesn’t seem to have been perfectly executed. Perhaps the fabled ‘Fan-version’ of ‘Song Reader’ will be a much more interesting and worthwhile compilation.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Please Leave A Light On When You Go – Fun
  • Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard – Juanes
  • Sorry – Laura Marling
  • Old Shanghai – Eleanor Friedberger

Beck’s compilation album of ‘Song Reader’ is out now.

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