Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes musicians seems to take when they are covering an artist, is what a cover actually means. The point isn’t to play note by note the same song with little to none changes, it’s actually stay truth to the original while bringing your very own spin. So as a listener, one still gets the essence but also get to hear your own point of view, your own particular sound.
On my last review for Gregg Stewart self-titled album, one of my biggest complaints was that the album sounded way too unoriginal, it felt as if you were listening to someone else rather than Stewart himself. Ironically, his greatest and most original album is one made entirely of covers.
Twenty Sixteen kicks off with Pete Burns’ Dead Or Alive overly famous single “You Spin Me Round”. A very acoustic driven rendition, the 80s upbeat melodies are replaced by gritty chords and great vocals. Next up, things slows down as Gregg takes on the late George Michael’s ballad “A Different Corner” where above all, Stewart showcase his great and powerful vocal skills. The rest of the songs follows the same rhythms and style NJ native has gotten used to. As you may notice by now due to its title and the artists in it, the record is a tribute to those that leave us last year. We unfortunately lost so many great artists from those that were very well known, to those that may have got a bit lost as time went by. The collection of songs here are mostly great…
However, with so many upbeat and incredible songs by these artists, except for a few little exceptions, Stewart choose to cover most of their slower songs. In a case like this, the best would have been to perhaps make them a bit more exciting, tone up instead of tone down. Unfortunately Gregg does the latter. And while, again, sometimes it works, it does feels a bit repetitive and boring.
Overall, Gregg Stewart brings out some great emotions and nice spins on his Twenty SIxteen album, unfortunately its great potential and ambition gets overshadowed by poor songs choices and lack of any strong creative arrangements or any risks whatsoever. The east coast folk singer is moving on the right direction, but by any major step forward, he gives two backwards.