When Fleet Foxes returned to the music industry in 2016, it was in the face of some steep odds. Drummer Josh Tillman (allegedly) went scorched earth on the tour for their second album Helplessness Blues before jumping ship and adopting the Father John Misty moniker. Band leader Robin Pecknold put the band on hiatus, went to Columbia to obtain his undergraduate degree, and by all accounts was perfectly willing to put Fleet Foxes behind him.
That wasn’t meant to be, with the band regrouping and hooking up with Warner Bros subsidiary Nonesuch Records to release their fantastic third LP, Crack-Up. That album is full of weary observations about the past and optimistic looks to the future, but none were more nurturing and healing than the album’s sixth track, ‘If You Need to, Keep Time on Me’.
Featuring little more than Pecknold and his guitar, punctuated with some understated piano, ‘If You Need to, Keep Time on Me’ is a love song that does what few other love songs do: acknowledge the doubt and shades of grey that can always stalk the periphery of a relationship. Or maybe it’s about the political discourse that surrounded the 2016 presidential election, as Pecknold directly mentions in interviews. In either interpretation, it’s a beautiful response to uncertainty.
As part of Electric Lady Studios’ ongoing Live EP partnership with Spotify, Faye Webster recently entered the hallowed halls of the recording space to record a few tracks, most of which came from her recent LP I Know I’m Funny Haha. When it came time for a cover, though, Webster tapped into the palpable melancholy of Pecknold’s writing by covering ‘If You Need to, Keep Time on Me’.
With a stripped-down sensibility that’s even more sparse than the original, with just Webster and her electric guitar strums, Webster connects with that same sense of optimism amid the perilous. You can hear the quivers and vulnerability in Webster’s voice, a disarming feature for someone who brings sway and swagger to songs like ‘A Dream With a Baseball Player’. It’s a fascinating blend and a challenge that Webster rises to.
Check out the audio for Webster’s cover of ‘If You Need to, Keep Time on Me’ down below.