Mari Wilson - Cover Stories
For those of a classic vintage, the gravity-defying beehive and swinging 60s stylings of Mari Wilson were just as much a part of the early 80s Smash Hits scene as some of the more obvious contenders. While never achieving household name status, Wilson has sustained a cult following and a recording career ever since, alongside stage and theatre work - including time on Dusty: The Musical, portraying the artist Wilson is most often compared to. Cover Stories, as the name implies, is her first collection showcasing the work of her long-term influences alongside modern material from the likes of Gillian Welch and Caitlin Rose.
Curiously, one standout is her re-imagining of one of the more obvious choices: Springfield's 'I Only Want To Be With You', rescuing it from a decades' worth of talent show mauling by stripping away the surface to leave the bare emotional message. And that's the general approach: just Wilson's timeless voice and basic arrangements of piano, bass or keys that are never in danger of ever running away and which, in less experienced hands, might prove samey but here just pull you in for the duration. Our favourite is the version of Kirsty MacColl's 'They Don't Know', its opening lines ("You've been around for such a long time now / Oh, maybe I could leave you but I don't know how") doubling as a metaphor for a life that has become entwined in the arts - and one which continues to deliver gratifyingly enjoyable new music.