What does Joy Autumn sound like?
Haunted folk melodies, this time giving tribute to the grunge icon.
The review of Joy Autumn – Come As You Are – A Tribute to Nirvana in Olympia
I always say if you are going to cover a song, make it your own. Joy Autumn clearly comes from the same school of thought as her latest release is a beautifully haunted tribute to Nirvana. Taking six tracks from Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ and ‘Nevermind’ albums, she transposes them into ethereal melancholic and lightly bewitched folk songs. It makes the songs sound familiar yet totally Joy Autumn’s too.
The release opens with ‘In Bloom’, which lays on the haunted backing hums and mystical forest noises thickly. Hearing the sharp Bb / G# at the end of the riffs adds to the spooky vibe and the restrained vocals really help craft a disquiet in the folk rift. The flip side to this is ‘All Apologies’. Here, Joy Autumn plays it straight like a hippy folk piece and it works really well. Wholesome, bright, jangly and warm, the two tracks feel poles apart. Somewhere in the middle is ‘Lithium’. This track is played as a jaunty acoustic guitar jamboree with the anthem chorus played out like an internal humming song of happiness. If anything, playing the track so upbeat actually makes it sound slightly unhinged and the middle eight’s violin screaches help with that unsettled feeling too.
‘Pennyroyal Tea’ is transformed into a string-laden acoustic folk ballad. Layered vocals, played straight like a 70s folk piece really lend to a dramatic cowboy vibe, as does the huge reverb given to the minimalistic verses. It’s a lovely rendition. ‘Come As You Are’ switches guitars for piano while subtle synths and strings bubble away in the background. Again, restraint is key for the low vocals and hazy chamber pop delivery. The release closes with ‘Something In The Way’ which uses a glockenspiel like a tiny tolling bell. Just as the collection opened, Joy Autumn pulls us back into haunted atmospherics and subdued ethereal calm. It’s a song that would work perfectly as a character montage in a Nordic crime or horror series.
Equal parts tense and enchanting, Joy Autumn has really turned these tracks into her own. My only mild critique here is that all the songs hold a mood but rarely have a finale to them. They drift in and out holding a specific vibe across the entire song. To counter that argument, the entire EP has a numbness to it that I think could be lost if the tracks were more dynamic. That said, this is one of the better Nirvana tributes I’ve heard in years and that should give you cause to pause and listen.
Recommended track: All Apologies
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