‘Cello Song’ by Fontaines D.C. – Single Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★

The first rule of a good cover version of any song is that is must be different from the original. The second is that it is hopefully better than the original. Fontaines D.C. have certainly covered off rule one, possibly rule two also?

‘Cello Song’ is of course a song originally written, performed and released by legendary late 60’s/early 70’s singer/songwriter Nick Drake.

Fontaines D.C’s version makes up part of a 32 song compilation album of Nick Drake’s superb work entitled ‘The Endless Coloured Ways’ released with support and backing of Drake’s estate. As well as Fontaines D.C, the album includes recorded performances by Emeli Sande’, Bombay Bicycle Club, Radiohead’s Phil Selway as well as Ben Harper and Elbow’s Guy Garvey. ‘The Endless Coloured Ways’ is out on the 7th  of July.

Nick Drake

Nick Drake’s ‘Cello Song’ is a gorgeous folk ballad, with soft vocals, acoustic guitar fingerpicking, bongos and the lead cello melody. Fontaines D.C’s version is heavier. But, no less thoughtful towards Drake’s composition, with a heavy drum intro accompanying Joy Division styled distorted guitar and bass lines. What’s brilliant about this version, is that the original cello melody from the original is kept in the mix and is instantly recognisable. Nearly two minutes in, the drums drop out, leaving Grain Chatten’s haunting lead vocals and two sustained guitar tracks. Chatten’s vocal track really is a lovely tribute to Nick Drake. The overall mix of this track has hints of eastern influence. It boasts hints of some of Led Zeppelin’s later work (‘Kashmir’ & ‘When The Levee Breaks’ spring to mind).

Nick Drake released three albums across his short career, none of which sold at the time. They have since become cult classics over the years. The music world became a lesser place when Drake died of an anti-depressant overdose in 1974. It’s wonderful that his catalogue will be audible again by a new audience. Also, Fontaines D.C. have done a marvellous job at creating an almost perfect cover of a legendary artist’s original work.

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