Just shy of a year after the release of his sixth album 85% Proof, Will Young is keeping things short and simple with a covers EP. Collecting songs from an eclectic selection of artists in differing genres and meshing them together in one stylistically cohesive EP, Summer Covers was a massive undertaking that very well could have, and mostly did, fall a little short of our expectations.
To its credit, Summer Covers gets its most confusing cover out of the way quickly, minimising the potential damage. Young effectively turns the Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen In Love, a breakneck punk song full of energy, into a sluggish ballad, keeping it sparse with guitar and piano as hi hats jitter throughout as a form of accompaniment. It’s a change that doesn’t suit the spirit—or, more seriously, the writing—of the song very well, and makes for an awkward cover.
Elsewhere, the shift to his genre of choice makes a lot more sense: While his cover of Joni Mitchell’s Answer Me, My Love turns an enthralling wall of strings and sound into a smooth jazz track, it translates into the style in a much more natural way. His takes on the Beatles’ I’m Only Sleeping and John Martyn’s One World also get the jazz treatment, and their downtempo style means the slower pace of these jazz tracks doesn’t affect them as much as any of the other covers. They’re solid, if not somewhat inoffensive covers, with the extremely faithful guitar-and-vocals cover of Ryan Adams’ Amy being the only thing that really breaks the mood of the album. It’s similarly the most interesting song to be found here, despite its simplicity.
Covers are an exceptionally tricky thing to pull off properly, especially when the entire release is made up of them. Unfortunately, Will Young didn’t exactly wow anyone with Summer Covers, keeping things slow and sluggish while choosing somewhat awkward songs to cover—partially Answer Me, My Love, but mostly Ever Fallen In Love—that don’t make much sense or really add any spark to the EP. It was an interesting experiment, but one without much life or love to it.