Home Read Albums Of The Week: Juliana Hatfield | Sings ELO

Albums Of The Week: Juliana Hatfield | Sings ELO

After taking on The Police and Olivia Newton-John, the beloved Boston indie-rocker tackles Jeff Lynne’s catalogue with the same blend of reverence and reinvention.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:ELO songs were always coming on the radio when I was growing up,” recalls Juliana Hatfield. “They were a reliable source of pleasure and fascination (except for Fire On High which scared the heck out of me). With this album of covers I wanted to get my hands deep into some of the massive ’70s hits but I am also shining a light on some of the later work (Ordinary Dream from 2001’s Zoom album, Secret Messages and From The End Of The World, both from the ’80s).

“Thematically, I identify with the loneliness and alienation and the outerspace-iness in the songs I chose. (I have always felt like I am part alien, not fully belonging to or in this Earth world.) Sonically, ELO recordings are like an amusement park packed with fun musical games with layers and layers of varied, meticulous parts for your ears to explore; production curiosities; huge, gorgeous stacks of awe-inspiring vocal harmony puzzles. My task was to try and break all the things down and reconstruct them subtly until they felt like mine.

Photo by David Doobinin.

“Overall, I stuck pretty close to the originals’ structures while figuring out new ways to express or reference the unique and beloved ELO string arrangements. An orchestra would have been difficult or impossible for me to manage to record, nor did I think there was any point in trying to copy those parts as they originally were. Why not try to reimagine them within my zone of limitations? In some cases, I transposed string parts onto guitars, or keyboards, and I even sung some of them (as in Showdown and Bluebird Is Dead).

“Recording the album was a kind of complicated and drawn-out process since I was doing all of my tracks at home in my bedroom (drums and bass were done by Chris Anzalone and Ed Valauskas, respectively [in their own recording spaces]), and I kept running into technology problems that would frustrate me and slow me up. But eventually I got it all done. A labor of love.”


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