Nick Drake has moved many and only recently have artists found it acceptable to cover his work. Katherine Priddy offered up I Think They’re Leaving Me Behind earlier last month. Her cover of the Family Tree cut was not associated with the love letter to Drake’s music helmed by Aurora, Fontaines D.C. and Emeli Sandé, but it would have slotted in there nicely. ‘Cello Song, one of the cuts from this compilation of love and praise to a great artist is an excuse to fashion out a cover in their own style. Remove the satisfaction of flowing beauty, and replace it with the style of the time. A risky move for Fontaines D.C., whose Skinty Fia was not the most balanced project going. Still, ‘Cello Song more than holds its own.
Post-punk adaptations to the words of Nick Drake. Wonderful stuff, and where Fontaines D.C. was clawing at something new, but not quite making it with their recent album, they throw themselves at ‘Cello Song. Ireland is seeing a nice little boom, playing catch-up with the one experienced in England last year. The Murder Capital and Inhaler may stand a tad taller than Fontaines D.C., but the notoriety of that third group, the jagged guitar that works away like a rusted saw, is startling. ‘Cello Song benefits thoroughly from its rhythm, the groove it sets and the big band feel of it. Aching little delicacies that line the master tape, pulling together for an incredible instrumental opening.
For those that are suckers for strings and need little else to have their heartstrings tugged, this cover will work wonders. For those that are less predisposed to being moved by strings, shame on you. But there is a plentiful amount of soul to guide the lyrics and placement of this cover as a titan-like track. Forget the cruel world. Take a dive with Grian Chatten. His moving rendition of Drake’s work is a gorgeous one and expectedly so. Incredible work from the band in covering this Drake song so faithfully gives a sense of place. Right there on the cliff edge, a thumping, constant and worrisome piece that plants audiences right at the centre of a great push. Composed energies, a stern form and love in its heart mark quite the triple for Fontaines D.C.
It means this cover for Nick Drake’s stunning original is as essential as Stewart Lee’s song about pears. ‘Cello Song is a gorgeous cover of Drake’s work, but most of what is present here works for those that love Fontaines D.C. Rightly so. There is much to like and much of it is here and present. Accounted for as it should be and rationally used, adding layer after layer of the talent that makes Fontaines D.C. an impressive listen and a key part of the new music scene booming from Ireland. They may have been around for some time but they are just finding their footing and have pulled in a fresh-faced example of how they are working and what they do with clarity and originality. Covering Nick Drake is no small feat, and the Irish post-punk perception of his words and meaning is a delicate, raw beast.