Dean Wareham is the rare musician who is as adept at arranging cover songs as he is writing his own wonderful original material. Whenever he offers up a cover, I will definitely check it out, as he rarely disappoints. His new solo album, Dean Wareham Vs. Cheval Sombre, is a collaboration with guitarist Cheval Sombre, and together the duo explore songs of a distinctly Western flavor. The scope of their covers range from traditional cowboy tunes to more modern outlaw country singer-songwriter fare, as well as a few songs taken from Western movies. The album is nothing short of a hazy, slightly stoned and psychedelic road trip through the desert, my favorite number has to be there take on “Wand’rin’ Star,” the Lerner/Loewe composition from the musical Paint Your Wagon, which was bizarrely proved to be a massive hit for the distinctively non-singer Lee Marvin, and which kept the Beatles‘ “Let It Be” from being their final number one single. Thankfully, Wareham doesn’t sing it with a croak like Marvin did; instead, he transforms it into a trippy little lullaby that is absolutely dreamy; if anything, it sounds like a Mercury Rev b-side. In other words, “Wand’rin’ Star” is a lovely little jewel from a wonderfully talented musician.
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