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A case of Joni and James

An excellent piece in today's Guardian by the splendid Laura Barton* (here) about James Blake's cover of Joni Mitchell's 'A Case Of You' gives rise to two important questions.

First: James Blake? The Eden On The Line jury is still hearing the evidence, but the fact that it is still listening repeatedly to his new album and digging back to the earlier EPs is a further point in his favour. (Alongside his readiness to try covers, of course.) It's the voice that I can't really make my mind up about, dwelling as it does in the difficult border area between Affectingly Fragile and A Bit Wet. Anthony Hegarty is a near neighbour in that neck of the woods...

I'm surprised to find I'm more comfortable and immediately convinced by his music than the vocals, because I'm not very familiar with the musical vocabulary he's using. (I'd be hard pressed to tell dubstep from my elbow - though I could probably distinguish it from Elbow...)

'A Case Of You' doesn't really take the jury's deliberations that much further, given that the piano's untreated and the voice is so exposed, but it's a fascinating listen and a brave shot at a classic.

Which brings us to today's second question. Namely: is Joni really coming the unequivocal swashbuckling romantic in this song as everyone assumes, or is there a distinctly backhanded compliment lurking in the hookline?

"I could drink a case of you, darling, and I would still be on my feet." 

Now, that doesn't sound like a very powerful alcoholic beverage to me, if a whole case can't put her under the table. A tray of Kaliber rather than a Grand Vin in a nice wooden box. After all, this is a narrator who likes a drink ('if you want me I'll be in the bar') and this one isn't having much of an impact. Just a thought, Leonard, if you're still feeling smug.

* Laura is always worth reading and her recommendations usually repay following up. She had me hooked with this brilliant piece a few years back retracing Jonathan Richman's journey through suburban Massachusetts in 'Roadrunner'. I'll even forgive her yesterday's swimming cap aberration...


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