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There aren’t too many people who I trust to cover a classic song well. People always get it wrong, either bringing nothing new to the table or changing things too much. And if I am suspicious of anyone who decides that the world would be a better place for their reworked tune, I suggest that there is almost no one I would trust to cover Kate Bush’s masterful and game-changing “Wuthering Heights”. As it turns out, Jessie Kilguss is the safe musical pair of hands needed for such a task.
What is great about her version of the song is that at no point does she try to out-Kate Kate. After all, there would be no point trying; it can’t be done. Instead, she applies everything that makes her music fantastic to this iconic song – a stately understatement, one bordering on emptiness, a compelling vocal built of precise diction and beautiful harmony, the folky delicacy of a few strummed chords…the right few…some chiming inclusions, deft textures and little else.
It is an extraordinary rendition, perhaps the only one I’ve heard that passes muster for me, but it is a reminder of how to approach songs of such stature. A balance between keeping what makes the original version so great and bringing enough freshness to that familiarity. It’s a fine line to walk, which is why people get it wrong. Well, most people but certainly not Jessie Kilguss.