For many artists, the release of an all-covers album falls into one of two categories: feat or flop. Though it can be an ideal avenue for a musician to pay tribute to those that shaped his or her career, it is often a delicate balance between what can be viewed as a masked case of writer’s block (at worst) or a completely unique interpretation of the classics (at best).
In the case of New York-based soul songstress Kendra Morris, it is definitely the latter. Hot off the heels of a solid debut album – 2012’s Banshee – Morris boldly puts her vocal chops at center stage with her sophomore effort, Mockingbird. The 14 covers run the gamut, offering soulful yet quirky takes on classics like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” to Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning” (by far one of the album’s most odd but exceptional tracks) and Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game.” Other gems include The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” and Radiohead’s “Karma Police.”
Strong vocals aside (her talent has been compared to the likes of Adele, Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse), Morris should be commended for the diversity of songs she chooses to cover. With staples that pay homage to a variety of decades and genres, there is truly something that almost every type of listener can appreciate. And, as each track plays on, it becomes all the more obvious that Morris is imbued with a true sense of understanding music. Instead of trying to mimic each artist she covers, she manages to make an album that feels like something that’s truly her own. Finally, someone who gets it.