Emerging out of St. Louis, it’s no mistake that Tony Crown has seen his stock rise as of late. Between the release of his warmly received debut LP Distant from the Universe, and high profile television placements on shows like Fear the Walking Dead, Ray Donovan, and The Affair, you might unknowingly know Crown as the artist you Shazam’d just a second too late on your last streaming binge.
Tony Crown’s feathery alt-rock is an intersection of art and melody. While Crown is well versed in both, a Picasso painting might influence the direction that his tracks take as much as a Hendrix lyric. Most recently, he’s put his efforts towards re-interpreting singles from classic songwriters, including covers of The Who, David Bowie, Donovan, The Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan. Crown’s latest project shines a new light on Jimi Hendrix’s jazzy space age number “Up from the Skies.”
Tony Crown takes Hendrix’s colourful tale about an extraterrestrial pondering humanity’s evolution, and brings it a little more down to earth. Crown sets the story in a softer brighter world, trading in Hendrix’s trudging wah and stammering tempo for an upbeat sound that’s more clean-cut. If Jimi’s alien expedition feels like a carefree psychedelic stumble, Tony’s is a smooth sobering journey through the clouds. While Crown has a more polished interpretation of “Up from the Skies”, he gives a nod to Hendrix’s alien motifs with a wavering static-filled prelude and a heavily filtered vocal outro.
The original “Up from the Skies” carries Hendrix’s expected amount of Stratocasted guitar wizardry, but the track’s biggest strength is its use of poetic lyrics to build an imaginative narrative. This isn’t something lost on Crown, who recently told SynchAudio that he considers lyrics the most important part of a cover. Though he arranges the track freely, shifting lines from the original’s bridge into his intro, and altering the song’s chord progression, Crown brings Hendrix’s words front and centre.
Crown credits Cat Power’s The Covers Record for his approach to cover songs, an album in which Power wasn’t afraid to forego a popular chorus or riff, or modify a progression to make a cover her own. Much like Power, Crown manages to maintain his own creative voice with his take on “Up from the Skies”, while paying his respects to the original. As he continues to see both covers and originals well-placed across television, it’s Tony Crown’s ability to gracefully incorporate his influences into his own work that not only makes him an intriguing cover artist, but a promising songwriter.
For more on Tony Crown visit: www.tonycrownmusic.com
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