Pop producer extraordinaire Rostam has released two new covers for the deluxe edition of his latest studio album Changephobia: ‘Fruits of My Labor’ by Lucinda Williams and ‘Train in Vain’ by The Clash.
Aesthetically it’s hard to pick two more disparate artists: Williams is the epitome of Americana, a hard-worn troubadour whose gravelly voice and even rougher take on country and folk music, coupled with her determination to work at her own pace that could leave years between releases, makes her a legendary and iconoclastic figure of American music. Meanwhile, The Clash are The Clash: legendary punks, political figureheads, genre melders, the righteous voice of the British underclass, incredibly prolific but never built to last.
Also, is it a little bit strange to have an expanded edition of an album come out less than a month after the original’s release? Shouldn’t there be some staggering of releases? Maybe Rostam wanted to strike while the iron was hot. I’m not sure, but who am I to judge?
Anyway, Rostam’s version of ‘Train in Vain’ is hazy and more electronica based than the original, incorporating layers of synthesizer textures and reverb-laden vocals while retaining the original’s guitar riffing and harmonica lines. It’s… fine, I guess. It feels relatively light and throwaway compared to the rest of Changephobia, which I wasn’t a major fan of in the first place, but at least had a coherent direction and cohesive style. ‘Train in Vain’ feels like Rostam is trying to haphazardly shoehorn the tootling saxophones and psychedelic textures of Changephobia into a song that doesn’t quite fit that context. There’s no major disservice done to Mick Jones’ legendary break-up song, but there’s also no reason for it to exist other than if you’re a big Rostam fan and want to hear how he reinterprets his influences.
‘Fruits of My Labor’ is much the same. The album that the original song is featured on, 2003’s World Without Tears, is the under-appreciated second follow up to Williams’ legendary Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and is my personal favorite album by Williams where she embraces a more explicitly rock and roll sound. ‘Fruits of My Labor’ seems to be the go to cover from it: Waxahatchee released her own version earlier this me. I’m definitely more of ‘Real Life Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings’ kind of guy, but I guess I’m in the minority.
Check out both covers down below.