Aoife O’Donovan: “Drover”

We hope you’ve been enjoying the start of our Under the Covers weekend! And since it’s so warm and snuggly under here, we certainly won’t be the ones to tear the blanket off. One of my personal favorite things to discover in hearing a new rendition of an established classic is when the “updated” version looks at the fork in the road just past a tune’s tracks and opts for the less beaten path.

Sure you could just genre-swap the sound or gender-swap love lyrics to fit your orientation, but the covers that blow my mind the most are the ones that capture the essence of the original without sacrificing any of its integrity all the while turning it into something bigger. So with something as magnificent as Bill Callahans’ baritone-battened “Drover“, it takes a brilliantly creative mind to imagine how a masterpiece like this may sound with a more feminine, folksy inflection. A mind like Aoife O’Donovan’s.

This Grammy-winning songwriter co-founded KUTX favorite I’m With Her and continues to front the string quintet Crooked Still. On top of that, a ton of other collaborations, plus her decade-long status as a mainstay on Prairie Home Companion, O’Donovan’s an incredibly accomplished solo artist. At the start of January, Aoife O’Donovan announced The Apathy Sessions, a deluxe edition of last year’s acclaimed Age of Apathy LP that finally hit streaming today. You’ll surely recognize Sharon Van Etten’s “I Love You But I’m Lost” among the twenty-track roster, which is phenomenal in its own right, but O’Donovan’s take on “Drover” almost redefines Callahan’s tale of bucolic solitude. O’Donovan performs every instrument (guitar, bass, keys, and of course, vocals) in this incandescent recording that unplugs the amps and plants you right on the emotionally abandoned ranch. So saddle up…just try not to tear up too.