The Portland Cello Project’s Beck Hansen’s Song Reader album has been the soundtrack to a lot of my 2013 so far; it started as something I bought/listened to as a reminder of their “Beck The Halls” Christmas concert from the end of last year (Where the above video was recorded; if you can imagine the view from the left of the audience, about midway back, that was me), but it’s unfolded into more of a delight than simply nostalgia the more I listen. Here’s another video from the December show, with the spectacular Jolie Holland providing amazing vocals (Seriously, these are vocals to die for), to give you an idea of what you missed.
Part of the appeal is hearing the music performed in such an un-Beck way; the PCP and guest vocalists give the music more of a jazzy feel, with some easy listening thrown in at times (“Just Noise” could be a Bacharach song), that manages to free the songs from what you’d expect of Beck, and makes his music into something… else, somehow. The humor is allowed to come through, in a way that his own performances tend to underplay for whatever reason. Check out “Last Night, You Were A Dream” and imagine it being performed by Beck; the joke would somehow feel flatter, somehow…?