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Juliana Hatfield - Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police

  by Adrian P

published: 27 / 11 / 2019

Juliana Hatfield - Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police
Label: American Laundromat
Format: CD


Now apparently alternating between albums of her own songs and covers of other artists, Juliana Hatfield returns with her second studio LP of 2019, in the shape of this curiously enjoyable sweep through the songbook of The Police.

Having delivered one of her most engaging solo albums in recent times at the start of this year, in the form of the barbed but melodic ‘Weird’, Juliana Hatfield’s second long-playing release for 2019 is another off-piste covers collection. A sort-of-sequel to her 2018 trawl through the Olivia Newton-John songbook and part of an ongoing project to revisit the works of artists important to her youthful self, this latest self-evidently-titled LP finds the relentlessly prolific Hatfield taking an irreverent but affectionate scalpel to The Police’s body of work. Puff Daddy’s sampling and adornment of ‘Every Breath You Take’ aside, The Police aren’t that well-known for the reinterpretation treatment, which gives Hatfield the room to make this quite a bespoke venture to fit her own sensibilities. Bravely but perhaps sagely only tackling a handful of the genuine hits in favour of deeper dives into album tracks, B-sides and rarities also allows us to find fresher routes into The Police’s oeuvre beyond the singles that stick so much to the memories of iconic and often deliberately goofy period promo videos. Recorded with a rudimentary yet resourceful lo-to-mid-fi set-up, featuring Hatfield assuming the vast bulk of guitar, bass, drums and keyboard duties herself eschews any attempt to imitate the borderline-virtuosity often concealed behind The Police’s casual exteriors, allowing the core songs to bleed out in fresh rough and tumbling ways. Of the chosen bigger numbers, the results are a tad mixed. On the stronger side, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ is magnified in its obsessional intensity through post-punk guitar clang, stompy drums and squally keyboards, ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’ has the darker lyrical underbelly beneath its nonsensical earworm-chorus revealed and ‘Every Breath You Take’ is given a squelchy less stalker-ish makeover. Not so is effective, however, is the dirge-like deconstruction of ‘Roxanne’, with its laboured layered arrangement of programmed drum machines and churning electric guitars. Exploring the less familiar material brings up a greater consistency in terms of invention and hooks. Hence, lots of imagination and charm comes packed into effervescently bouncy skanks through ‘Canary in a Coalmine’, ‘Hungry For You’ and ‘(J'Aurais Toujours Faim De Toi)’; a swirling spin through ‘Hole in My Life’; an effects-heavy warping of ‘Rehumanize Yourself’; and terrific punk-meets-college-rock stomps through ‘Murder By Numbers’, ‘Landlord’, ‘Next To You’ and ‘It’s Alright For You’. As with the aforementioned Olivia Newton-John set there is a nagging feeling that this is possibly an oversized-EP at heart. Yet as an exercise in upturning the back catalogue of Messrs Sumner, Copeland and Summers, to hear what is hidden between the cracks of received musical history, ‘Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police’ largely succeeds with plenty of wit and warmth.

Track Listing:-
1 Can't Stand Losing You
2 Canary In A Coalmine
3 Next To You
4 Hungry For You (J'aurais Toujours Faim De Toi)
5 Roxanne
6 Every Breath You Take
7 Hole In My Life
8 De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
9 Murder By Numbers
10 Landlord
11 Rehumanize Yourself
12 It's Alright For You

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