Some people like to do things the easy way. Jann Arden is not one of them.
Consider her latest disc "Uncover Me".
For many artists, a covers album is a cop-out -- a set of tried-and-true tunes tossed off to plug the gap and fatten the wallet between discs.
But not Jann. And not for want of trying, either.
The Canadian singer-songwriter reportedly cut a disc of croony standards, but scrapped it as too downbeat (and coming from ballad queen Arden, that's really saying something).
Instead, she regrouped and recorded the fittingly titled "Uncover Me", a collection of '60s and '70s pop tunes that give us a revealing glimpse into her early musical loves and influences.
Listening to her glistening pop-rock versions of classics like Janis Ian's "At Seventeen", Carly Simon's "You're So Vain", The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'" and Karen Carpenter's "Solitaire", you can picture her sitting alone in her teenage bedroom after school, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing along with her turntable.
The timeless messages of Freda Payne's "Bring the Boys Home" and Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" resonate strongly without seeming heavy-handed, while her somewhat tongue-in-cheek cover of Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" is just a kick.
Most of the tunes are pretty faithfully rendered, with the exception of Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield", which is recast as a shadowy ballad.
But no matter the setting, everything possesses Arden's usual undercurrent of melancholy -- even Petula Clark's sugar-spun ditty "Downtown" sounds ironic and resigned in her hands.
After all, Jann knows that forgetting all your troubles and cares is easier said than done.
Lovely, sensitive, beautiful!