Saint Bernadette: Cover Thy Neighbor

[6 July 2010]

By Lana Cooper

On their fourth album and second full-length disc, Saint Bernadette releases a disc of cover songs.  The thing is, you wouldn’t know any of the songs on the album are covers.  It’s not that Saint Bernadette makes them so brilliant or memorable, but rather that even in the glorious age of being able to Google anything, none of the uber-obscure originals covered can be found anywhere accessible—or at least outside the group’s Connecticut stomping grounds.

Wielding an interesting mix of acoustic indie-rock melded with avant garde jazz and slide-fueled bluegrass (courtesy of the disc’s saving grace, Joe Novelli) and Meredith DiMenna’s torch-song vocals, Saint Bernadette has a lot of different sounds in their tightly-wrapped packaging. The musicianship is good and their experimental approach is admirable… but it’s just not truly outstanding or memorable. There’s too much going on to really carve out a distinct sound or make an impression.

Without being able to fairly compare the trio’s reworked offerings to the originals, Cover Thy Neighbor can only be judged on the basis of Saint Bernadette’s interpretations.  Frankly, it seems like an easy out for a relatively unknown band to hash out an entire disc of covers from other unknown bands, particularly when it’s on the heels of two EPs.  (Saint Bernadette’s sole LP was their debut disc, In the Ballroom. Aside from a smidge of bubbling-over sensuality on “Used” and the pluck n’ puck of the Zamboni’s hockey-themed, “Play to Win,” much of the album feels pretty phoned in.

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