Phoebe Bridgers is quite the critical darling. She’s already got two albums and four Grammy nominations under her belt. Not bad for a 26 year old! Bridgers has also become known for covering other artists. There are two of them that I’d like to…cover today. (Sorry.)
The first is “Iris,” originally by the Goo Goo Dolls. You may remember the song from angsty playlists of yore, or at least I do: “When everything feels like the movies/yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive!” Man, that really “spoke” to me back in the day. Ahem. Bridgers posted her cover as a limited release related to political events. If you missed the release you can still find a copy somewhere. It’s a duet with Maggie Rogers, another young and talented songbird in the same folk-pop vein. The two make the song much more wistful and less urgent. When they sing that all I can taste is this moment, you really believe it. Then the chorus hits and their voices blend together in perfect harmony. Everything might be made to be broken, but you still know who they are: they completely stick the landing on that last line.
The second cover is of “Whatever (Folk Song in C),” originally by Elliott Smith. This is a solo effort. Bridgers is actually the ideal singer to cover this song. Elliott Smith was known for his soft, even reedy, voice. Bridgers’s voice isn’t quite as thin, but it’s still soft. On the opener, “they come here alone and they leave in twos,” you can hear that same detached and sad observational tone from Smith’s version. Another great thing about covers is that sometimes you can hear the lyrics more clearly in the new version. That helped me get a little bit more out of Bridgers’s cover, and even Smith’s original when I returned to it. I felt like Bridgers really captured the essence of what Smith put into his song. It’s a joy to hear.