My Proud Mountain is thrilled to announce Songs of Townes Van Zandt III, continuing the tradition of well-known artists in the heavy music and dark genres covering the songs of Townes Van Zandt. The LP features nine new and unique covers by Amenra, Cave In, and Marissa Nadler.
Opener “Quicksilver Dreams of Maria” paints Nadler as a pastoral daydream of mournful siren vocals, embodying the lovelorn and lustful side of Van Zandt some listeners tend to overlook. “I wanted to shine a light on some of Townes Van Zandt’s lesser known, but equally excellent songs from his vast body of work,” says Nadler. “His deeply romantic lyrical tendencies are intricately displayed on the three songs that I chose, as well as the pervasive loneliness and deep-seated sadness, always waiting right outside the door.”
Her covers of “Sad Cinderella” and “None But the Rain” capture the tender and weary surrender to hope in the face of turmoil, like a flower blooming on a gravestone. The melodic and rhythmic contributions of Milky Burgess help make the covers a hazy carnival of memories that may be real or imagined, depending on where your eyes are following the setting sun over the hillside. “I recorded the songs at my home studio, with an intimate close-mic approach, and tried to be as raw as I could with them. The feeling that Townes is singing right in your ear, standing right next to you, comforting you – that is what I love about so many of his recordings. His attack and delivery go straight to the heart.”
Amenra strip back their sludge metal sound to just vocals and acoustic guitar to pay tribute to the tortured soul at the center of Van Zandt’s work. “The sadness and despair in his songs are unparalleled,” says guitarist Lennart Bossu. Tackling “Kathleen”, “Flyin’ Shoes”, and the eerie “Black Crow Blues”, Amenra shine a light on the real pain that made Van Zandt’s lyrics all the more haunting. “We recorded the songs with Gilles Demolder, in his little studio, where he added keys and atmospheres to “Kathleen” and “Flyin’ Shoes,” continues Bossu. “After working a little bit on tempos and composition, we surrendered to the songs, and tried to get as close to Townes’ original intention as we could.” The result is the Texas desert by way of Belgium, a set of stark and emotionally raw ballads for long night drives to nowhere.
“We’re gonna play another cover here,” says Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky from the Roadburn Festival stage in April 2018, a slight Texas twang escaping his mouth in anticipation of what comes next. “We’re gonna do a Townes Van Zandt song.” He and fellow Cave In guitarist Adam McGrath then launch into “Nothin’”, turning Van Zandt’s withering and detached anthem of forced sobriety and solitude into a proclamation of goodwill and tender absolution to a friend in the afterlife – departed Cave In bassist Caleb Scofield. “Caleb was a big fan of Townes Van Zandt, so we did it in remembrance of our friend,” says Brodsky. “When we think of Townes, we also think of Caleb – that’s the heavy shit.”
Cave In’s full-band covers of “The Hole” and “At My Window’ find them at their most cavernous, slowing down their high-wire sound to a sidewinder crawl to navigate the claustrophobic darkness. “I heard what Marissa Nadler and Amenra did with their covers, and it convinced me to go back to the drawing board,” says Brodsky. “It was pretty obvious that traditional-sounding Cave In versions of Townes Van Zandt wouldn’t work in this context.”
At nearly 7-minutes long, their doomed-out cover of “The Hole” is as black as west Texas midnight. “Our version was recorded mostly remotely – it started with me just singing and playing keys at the same time. I’m not sure there’s any other Cave In recording out there without me playing guitar,” continues Brodsky.”
For their cover of “At My Window”, Brodsky says, “We actually recorded 3 or 4 different versions. We eventually turned down the volume and slowed the tempo, with everyone going a little further outside their comfort zones to achieve something that would blend well with the other contributions. The Swans vibe that we eventually settled on seems to have garnered the best result for this application.”
It's likely that today’s digital landscape of plug-and-play creative freedom would have benefited an artist as fiercely committed to independence as Townes Van Zandt. My Proud Mountain is delighted to use today’s technology to help artists create an LP of covers that showcase his sad, brilliant, and highly influential music that continues to touch people the world over to this day.
01. Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria - Marissa Nadler
02. Black Crow Blues - Amenra
03. Nothin' - Cave In
04. Kathleen - Amenra
05. The Hole - Cave In
06. Flyin' Shoes - Amenra
07. Sad Cinderella - Marissa Nadler
08. At My Window - Cave In
09. None But The Rain - Marissa Nadler
The Deathwish Exclusive on Royal Blue w/ Black Splatter is limited to 400 copies