Cam Giles pays tribute to Leonard Cohen with a reimagination of his songbook

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Cam Giles pays tribute to Leonard Cohen with a reimagination of his songbook

Words by John “Dr John” Lamp

The new album, Darker – Songs of Leonard Cohen was recorded in celebration of Leonard Cohen’s 86th birthday.

I think one of the most overused and misunderstood descriptions used in music is “cover.” It seems to be used whenever someone performs a piece written by someone else.

On that basis, 90 per cent of what we listen to would be a cover. I see a cover as doing nothing more than an attempt to sound like the original.

The distinguishing characteristic for me is “re-interpretation” – when someone takes a song and makes it their own. This is the bread and butter of the jazz and blues scene. The Beatles would have been hard put to recognise George Benson’s “The Other Side of Abbey Road” and Paul Kelly organised “Women at the Well,” a CD of his songs re-interpreted by female artists.

So, where am I going with this? Well, it’s an intro to Cam Giles’ new CD “Darker: the songs of Leonard Cohen.

This is definitely a re-interpretation, not a cover.

In some ways, re-interpreting Leonid Cohen is easy, because, in essence Cohen is a poet first, and working with his work should be easier. However, Cohen’s music is something that generations have grown up with that tends to restrict the amount that can be varied.

It has been successfully done, as Jennifer Warnes “Famous Blue Raincoat” reworking of Cohen testifies.

It was also been done in this work by Cam Giles. On this CD we have the instantly recognisable Cohen songs, but with a richer music background and subtle changes to melodies.

There are no backing singers, just clear dynamic vocals augmented by the music, often with a jazz beat.

This is not Cam Giles first album of this type – INXSessive was a jazz tribute to INXS but it is definitely a worthy addition to the music library.

You can find the album on Bandcamp.

Ambition Entertainment / Sony