Sunday, October 7, 2012

Leonard Cohen Covers: Everybody Knows

The Duhks : Everybody Knows


Does everybody really know? One thing for certain is that The Duhks kick butt with this Leonard Cohen cover. Their highly-arranged Americana music draws inspiration from various genres. The Winnipeg quintet complemented its 2005 self-titled CD with several well-known guest artists (Paul Brady, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Abigail Washburn, Victor Wooten). The result was a tightly crafted, innovative mix of songs with haunting vocals and striking guitar, banjo, bass, fiddle and percussion. Even some low whistle and Uilleann pipes found their way into the caldron.

I like the way The Duhks blend tradition and individuality to create a signature sound. This juxtaposition of trad and contemporary is most emphasized by their covers from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Jez Lowe, Paul Brady and Sting. Blending genres, do you consider them “crossover” artists?

Creative artistry is built around the ability to free one's muse by building on your own influences and inspirations. The Duhks' approach allows for personal expression without belittling the very traditions they're stretching. Their reinvention of tradition is an amazing feat for these thirty-somethings whose journey takes us through joy, sorrow, inspiration, and even occasional humor.

The Duhks' proficient acousticians are Scott Senior (percussion), Jessica Havey (vocals), Leonard Podolak (banjo, fiddle), Tania Elizabeth (fiddle, mandolin), and Jordan McConnell (guitar, whistle, pipes). Whether serving up a beautiful, spiritual ballad or a rousing medley of reels, they manage to make each a part of greater "Duhkville."

With impressionistic and memorable songs like Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” their 2005 album was a great showcase for The Duhks' earthy bond between land and soul. From the looks of the video from the 2008 Magnolia Festival in Live Oak, Fl., they went ahead and closed their show with a raucous rendition of “Everybody Knows.” You gotta love their soulful vocals (even if a little loose in the video), slapped skins, wailing fiddle, flowing guitar, and buoyant banjo. With a plan to redefine both folk and pop music, The Duhks are doing it with their acoustic tools. I, for one, appreciate their conscious decision to not rely on electric instruments, synthesizers or drum machines. Everybody knows they won’t fit the vision. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.

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