In the four years since her previous album studio album Belle, Bic Runga decided to do something different. Close Your Eyes is made up almost entirely of covers, with only two original compositions on the tracklist, with each song being one that says something about her life in the current moment. Rather than writing solely about your life and its issues, this seems like a unique way to tackle the subject matter. Unfortunately, the album itself isn’t quite as interesting as its concept.
In terms of compositions, Runga’s original material sets the tone best, and usually has the most interesting arrangements to boot. The title track Close Your Eyes layers organs and vocals in an interesting way, paired with a skittering beat that melds into a more ordinary beat for its chorus in a way that mixes weirdness with the general, while Dream A Dream spends most of its time as a rather ordinary acoustic mid-tempo, with its strings acting as its major drawing point, before transforming into an upbeat number with a more active beat in its final minute, creating a weird but nice juxtaposition. The general sound, similar to what was heard on Belle, extends from these songs to the covers the album features, but never really goes anywhere exciting.
There are a few choice covers, with Kanye West’s Wolves transferring its existing energy into something dreamy and simple that verges on trip-hop, while The Blue Nile’s epic chorus of Tinsel Town in The Rain is turned into something with more urgency, retaining the simple arrangement with strings but upping the tempo considerably. On the other side of the coin, cuts like Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is faithful and simple, but lacks the soulful energy that carried the original recording, and many of the covers—including the enjoyable Tinsel Town In The Rain—find their original energy being brought down to match the lulled tone of this album, removing some of the spark they originally had, and while one example may be a change for the better, many suffer in the same vein.
Close Your Eyes is ultimately a very uneven album, with some covers coming off successful and others struggling to find their stride. Despite its interesting concept, the overall execution of the album brings it down from greatness to something more general. It’s an album with its fair share of missteps, leaving Close Your Eyes as a passable, yet not amazing experiment for Bic Runga.