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Natalie Imbruglia explains Male cover choices

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Natalie Imbruglia’s first album in six years contains no original songs. Instead, Male, is comprised entirely of covers of songs originally sung by men. Featuring tracks by The Cure, Tom Petty, Cat Stevens and Death Cab For Cutie, the 12 songs are hard departures from her earlier work like, ahem, “Torn.”

“I realized it was much more fun to do songs by male artists,” she told EW. “I just found them to be more fun. It’s like when you flip the sex on it. It doesn’t feel like a direct comparison to an experience because obviously you’re coming from a different place.”

All the tracks also have a thematic tie-in. “The songs on this album are about finding that life partner and that sentiment behind the songs, which I think is beautiful,” she said. Below, Imbruglia shares why she chose to cover seven of the tracks on Male, due out July 31.

“Instant Crush,” Daft Punk

“I wanted to cover something very different than what I sound like. I didn’t actually know what this song was about, so I went online and read the lyrics. I had no idea it was this beautiful love story! I wanted to strip it back so you could hear that.”

“Friday I’m in Love,” The Cure

“I was nervous about doing this one because Cure fans are quite die-hard. But you may as well do something radical. The Cure have that way of making their music feel light and fluffy and then you’re like, ‘Ugh, this is actually really heart-wrenching!’ It’s now the most fun song for me to perform.”

“Cannonball,” Damien Rice

“Damien just takes you into his little universe, and he’s got quite a unique-sounding voice. It’s intimidating taking on a lot of these songs, especially when they do stripped-back versions of things anyway. But this is one where I think that instantly when it’s a female voice, it’s not a direct comparison. I’m very much about lyrics and using music as a way to get things off my chest.”

“Naked as We Came,” Iron & Wine

“I love the lyric ‘One of us will die inside these arms.’ It’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? That you can find this relationship and partner and be with them until the end.”

“Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” Neil Young

“All the musical influences I’d had when I was growing up in a little beach town were directly from my family or friends at school. So when I moved to Melbourne as a teenager, people introduced me to other music. Neil Young was one of those moments. It’s incredibly hard to sing in time to this. But I wanted that old-school songwriting.”

“The Wind,” Cat Stevens

“This is the more spiritual song out of the bunch. That’s another element out of my personality that I wanted to include. I love the way he’s put the experiences of his spirituality into his music.”

“Let My Love Open the Door,” Pete Townshend

“I’m a big fan of the Who, and this was his first departure as a solo artist. It was so different than what they were doing: quite brave, simple, and beautiful. I know his management was going nuts about it at the time because it didn’t sound like a Who song. Without sounding corny, this one connects to my heart.”

A version of this story appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1374.

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