8Tracks Review: ‘Playing Favorites’ by Meiko

Playing Favorites (2018) by Meiko
Chesky Records

Everything I do depends on you

Yes, I know I just reviewed a Meiko single six weeks ago. I didn’t know back then that Meiko’s album would be out this early in the summer. But I am neither complaining nor apologizing, because people: this album is really good.

Meiko says:

I’m really proud of how it came out. It’s an album full of cover songs that I grew up listening to from artists like Sade, Blind Melon, Duran Duran, Mazzy Star, Portishead, Erykah Badu and a bunch of others!

My band and I recorded it live in an abandoned church in Brooklyn – the acoustics were AMAZING – this is definitely a record to listen to on headphones! 🙂

Anyway, I hope you like the album, and I hope you think we did these songs justice!

The album was recorded using the Chesky Binaural+ technique, which (if I understand it) records live in an attempt to capture the 3D sound we experience when we hear musicians play in person. Two mics are placed in the ear holes of a dummy to simulate what a human’s ears pick up, and as Meiko says, you really do want to listen to this with headphones.

Let it be what it’ll be

  1. Zombie — The Cranberries (3:09)
  2. Stand by Me — Ben E. King (3:16)
  3. Crush — Jennifer Paige (3:41)
  4. No Rain — Blind Melon (2:54)
  5. Fade Into You — Mazzy Star (5:02)
  6. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay — Otis Redding (2:50)
  7. Wandering Star (featuring Casey Abrams) — Portishead (3:37)
  8. Come Undone — Duran Duran (3:56)
  9. No Ordinary Love — Sade (4:21)
  10. Super Freak — Rick James (4:02)
  11. Show Me Love — Robin S. (3:14)
  12. Bag Lady — Erykah Badu (3:44)

It’s just a little crush

I noticed the sound quality right off, before I knew anything about this technique. I thought it was just really, really, really well mixed, with Meiko’s vocals way up front and the accompaniment pleasantly, happily, and clearly in the back, almost like the background sound of the ocean from that long weekend at the beach when you know you had a great time but can’t recall the specifics. Because all you remember is the way the girl two beach houses over sounded when she sang you that Amy Grant song on the beach that one night.

It should be like that, anyway. Meiko’s singing is the reason to listen to any Meiko song. Her voice is at turns whispery, purry, pensive, sultry, and yearning, and boy does she do a number on these numbers.

I’ll get the lows out of the way first. A covers album is always a personal thing by any artist, so I get that, but honestly, if I never hear another cover of “Stand by Me,” it’ll be perfectly okay. It’s a great, wonderful song loaded with wonderful memories for many of us, but it’s so overdone now that I think we’ve had enough. This doesn’t mean Meiko’s cover isn’t good; it is. It’s the best I’ve heard, anyway. I just, you know, wish that track had been something else.

I was planning to say the same thing about “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” too, but dang! When Meiko sings the low note on “dock of the” and then this shimmying “ooh oooh ooooh oooh” after “watching the tide roll away,” I swear she’s singing it just to me, like that girl on the beach I totally made up.

Songs I didn’t know before hearing this album: “Fade Into You,” “Wandering Star,” “Show Me Love,” “Come Undone,” and “No Ordinary Love.” I like them all! “No Ordinary Love” is the best of them, and it’s my second favorite on the album after “Crush.” Is it me, or does the melody for “Fade Into You” sound a bit like the verses in “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door?” And doesn’t “Come Undone” sound a little like “Hot in Herre” beginning at the :33 mark?

There really isn’t a meh moment on the album.  I’ve had it on repeat since this past weekend and I’m still grooving on it.  I want more.  Surely these are just the songs that made the cut.  When Meiko was brainstorming possible songs to include, she must have had forty to start with.  Let’s get a volume two.

I think this is my second favorite album of the year so far.

Let’s not overanalyze

Best song: “Crush”
2nd best song: “No Ordinary Love”
Most singable: “Zombie”
Song to make you text your ex (don’t do it!): “No Ordinary Love”
Song most likely to be in a CW show this year: “Fade Into You”
Flick your Bic for: “No Rain”
Best lyric: “Might take a little crime to come undone” (“Come Undone”)
Best moment:  I don’t want to be boring and give the same answers for all of these, but the whole first verse and first chorus of “Crush” are just heavenly.

$9.49 on Amazon. Go get it.

Rating: 8/10

Everything I do

web, appl, sptfy, ggle, bndcmp, hdtrcks, amzn, tmblr, sndcld, ig, ytbe, twttr, fb.


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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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