Three years on from winning season five of The X Factor, Dami Im’s career is going stronger than ever. Two albums deep into her career, Im has already been chosen to represent Australia in 2016’s Eurovision Song Contest with her latest song, Sound of Silence. Simultaneously, Classic Carpenters also found its way into the world; rather than releasing original material, Im took the chance to cover some of the Carpenters’ biggest hits in a faithful yet slightly individualised style. While it may not be as exciting as a completely original album, it’s definitely got its own charm to it.
Classic Carpenters has all the marks of a traditional cover album. The songs are all faithful to the Carpenters’ original versions, with most of the variation in sound coming from the more modern production values that the album carries. The opening piano of (They Long to Be) Close To You is unmistakable, with the easy listening style of the song remaining firmly in place, with the horns solidifying its jazz edge. There’s a Kind of Hush feels considerably more contemporary, retaining a similar structure to the original but giving it a modern pop feel to match the nostalgia; Superstar feels similarly modern, keeping things simpler than in the Carpenters’ original track to give it a somewhat different feel.
The tracks all follow these guidelines, and they’re all enjoyable in a more modern from. The biggest differing factor across the entire album, however, is Im’s own vocals. Her higher, modern register compliments the songs in a very different way to Karen Carpenter’s lower tone, giving the songs a lighter, breezier style that assists in giving them the sleek, modern feel that the album has. To Im’s credit, this isn’t something she tried to fight; by openly sticking to her own style, it gives the covers a unique feel that makes Im’s takes interesting to listen to.
Of course, compared to Im’s current back catalogue, Classic Carpenters is a far cry from what fans are used to. That’s not to say that it’s bad; it’s a nice look back into an older style of popular music and a chance to see how it translates into a modern setting. Despite the unique elements, there isn’t anything groundbreaking or attention grabbing that really drags you into the album, which could be had if there were one song that weren’t afraid to stray from its blueprint. It’s an album with an obvious targeted audience and a tight concept around it; well-executed and enjoyable, but may be somewhat lost on those that aren’t Carpenters fans.