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Covers album bonanza: A roundup

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Macy Gray
Thumbs up!If you’ve ever thought ”Hey, you know what this Radiohead anthem needs? A raspy Fraggle!” then you’re already happy. But Covered‘s take on ”Creep” weirdly works.
Thumbs down! Her distinctive delivery starts to lie over the whole thing like a scratchy blanket, turning songs from Metallica, Kanye, and Colbie Caillat one gravel-gargling shade of Gray.

Birdy
Thumbs up! The 15-year-old U.K. songbird, already YouTube famous for her covers, delivers sweetly melancholy takes on Bon Iver, Phoenix, and Fleet Foxes on her self-titled debut.
Thumbs down! The novelty of youth aside, nothing here beats the originals. But it should do bang-up business as pretty, unobtrusive background noise for spas and wine bars.

Roberta Flack
Thumbs up! Let It Be Roberta finds her killing a strictly-Beatles playlist softly, including a delicate ”Hey Jude,” swaying ”If I Fell,” and slow-burn-bluesy ”Oh Darling.”
Thumbs down! The lady is 73 years old, and she sounds fantastic — if a bit more trebly than in days of yore. The production, though, could stand a little (and, sometimes, a lot) less lite-jazz fog.

Lyle Lovett
Thumbs up! Saluting the Great Oddballs (Townes Van Zandt, Dean Martin), Release Me is oddly great. Check his twist on Charley Jordan‘s ”Keep It Clean,” where he bear-muzzles a man.
Thumbs down! His creepy warbling on ”Baby, It’s Cold Outside” makes him sound stalkerish, especially when his lady asks, ”What’s in this drink?” Um, club soda, gin, and a splash of roofies.

Counting Crows
Thumbs up! Yes, there’s some Bob Dylan and Big Star on Underwater Sunshine, but the band is best on the deep cuts, such as a folky, harmonized tribute to Pure Prairie League‘s ”Amie.”
Thumbs down! ”Jumping Jesus” imagines the Savior living on a houseboat. It’s a cover of Crows frontman Adam Duritz’s old band, Sordid Humor. Sorry, man. We ain’t laughing yet.

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