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Songs are covered for any number of reasons. Sometimes it is a genuine love of the song in question, other times a more calculated move to ride the coat tails of a past classic. Beth Snapp has a very different, more interesting, more meta take on things releasing her own take on the Kygo remix of the Whitney Houston cover of Steve Winwood’s 1986 classic, “Higher Love”. And that is quite a lot to get your head around.
Fortunately it is very easy to get your ears around. It is clearly a celebration of the original song in all of its many forms and it has to be said even this far removed from the sonic jumping off point, the original version still echoes resolutely. Which brings us to another interesting point about covers. Is it best to try to attempt something new with a song or stay true to the original vibe? What is interesting about Beth Snapp’s take is that it sits at the cutting edge of a series of incremental changes and so seems to be the best of both worlds; honouring the original yet using it to plough fresh sonic furrows too.
Until now the song has always existed in a fairly commercial pop place, Beth Snapp takes it into pastures new. It still has its trademark pop poise but it is also pulled one way towards an Americana vibe, the other in the direction of a sort of cinematic, dreamy indie soundscape. It is a testament to the original songwriter that a song can move with the times in such a dynamic and robust way but this new version also shows Beth Snapp to be an astute arranger, one blessed with the ability to hop, merge and confound genres, zeitgeists and above all expectations, all in the most pleasing of ways.
The message in the song has always been a poignant one, a call for unity, peace, understanding. And if that was true in 1986, it is probably more so now at a time when political entrenchment, civil rights issues, gender equality, enforced isolation and a general lack of tolerance and understanding seem to be fuelling an increase in political flash points and social confrontation. You can choose to see such the song as being merely idealistic or you chose to see it as a perfect and powerful rallying point. Opt for the latter and you are part of the solution.
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