Back in July last year Blogcritics own Garon Cockrell enthusiastically reviewed goddamned the debut album from New York based singer, songwriter, and actor Jay Brannan. This year Jay has followed that with In Living Cover and is currently supporting its release with a tour of the US and Australia.
You may recognize Jay from his appearances in the films Shortbus in 2003 (for which he contributed the song “Soda Shop”) and Holding Trevor (playing the part of a singer, Jake). His first album goddamned arrived in July 2008 and contained eleven original compositions.
For In Living Cover Jay opens with one of his own songs “Beautifully”. It is, in fact, one of the most instantly engaging tracks on the album sitting nicely alongside works drawn from other, more established, artists. It leaves you regretting that there is only one more self-penned song on the album.
His style is gentle almost delicate in its vulnerability, which often belies the pain contained within some of the lyrics. Next, Jay covers Terra Naomi’s lovely composition “Say It’s Possible”, a song that suits the lo-fi intimacy of his recording style well.
Joni Mitchell’s beautiful “All I Want” follows on smoothly. However, it could be said that the next track seems a somewhat ill-conceived choice. It seems something akin to misguided bravery to attempt to cover Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” and sure enough Jay’s stripped down version struggles to bring it on home. In fairness, there is clearly something within the lyrics that, like a lot of us, he feels connected to.
The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshman” follows and picks up where we left off earlier with Jay successfully drawing every possible emotion from each well-written line. Jann Arden’s “Good Mother” continues the feeling with seamless ease. Next up is an unaccompanied cover of Grammy award winning Ani DiFranco’s “Both Hands” which comes complete with multi-layered harmonies.