A great cover album not only pays homage to a beloved musician but reimagines the music itself. And while there’s little new about covering My Bloody Valentine, Portland’s Kenny Feinstein has succeeded in adapting the band’s 1991 shoegaze landmark Loveless via an extreme rearrangement.
Through the lens of gentle, porch-lit Americana, the Water Tower frontman explores his favorite record, one he admits listening to every day for a year. Loveless: Hurts to Love shows an artist so enamored of Kevin Shields and company that he’s rendered almost speechless. Feinstein’s stark style could be interpreted as either timidity or respectful nodding, save for the fact his selection of instruments—mandolin, fiddle, dulcimer, dobro—suggest a performer confident in his ability to turn his muse on its head.
My Bloody Valentine, known for its barefaced and bar-setting dream rock, has never sounded so pastoral. Richard Buckner and a few others lend their hands to the record, but mostly this is Feinstein’s baby. His lethargic vocals shuffle along beside tempered acoustic twang. Opener “Only Shallow” offers a dreamy platform with occasional fits of steely country, while “I Only Said” is a hushed, campfire counterpart to the whirring original. The record is delicate on the cusp of sleepy now and again, but overall Loveless is a stirring success, in that it reasserts both My Bloody Valentine’s importance and Feinstein’s creativity.
HEAR IT: Loveless: Hurts to Love is out Tuesday, Sept. 17.