George Michael’s “Let Her Down Easy” is pleasant though not an essential
In an interview almost two decades ago, international superstar George Michael claimed that he enjoyed singing other people’s songs more than he enjoyed singing his own songs. That is fairly odd given the gifted songwriter that George Michael has been for a little over 30 years. His repertoire includes songs that are highly unlikely to ever disappear from the radio airwaves anywhere in the world. His penchant for singing songs of other musicians has manifested itself in a number of ways over the years. The first was his “Cover to Cover” tour which features songs from his “Faith” album and songs by other musicians (e.g. Culture Club, The Doobie Brothers ). In 1999, he released “Songs from the last Century” – an album of covers produced by the great Phil Ramone. In recent years, he has released a series of covers of popular and little known songs (most of which are not featured on actual studio albums). Noteworthy examples include “Edith and the Kingpin” (by Joni Mitchell) and “For the love of you” (by The Isley Brothers). The last few years have also yielded some less than stellar attempts at covers – which include “True Faith” (by New Order) and “You And I” (by Stevie Wonder). Regardless of what we feel about George Michael’s take on many of these songs, the one thing we absolutely have to give him credit for is his remarkable ability to bring great songs out of obscurity and breathing new life into them by adding his vocal stamp to them. He doesn’t typically cover songs that have been done and redone by several artists. This is something he did particularly well on his Symphonica tour – a tour that took him all over Europe playing alongside live orchestras in every city. Some of the relatively obscure songs (at least with regard to the limited American mainstream) that he brought to life on this tour include “F.E.A.R” (originally performed by Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown), “Idol” (originally performed by Elton John), and of course his new single “Let Her Down Easy” (originally performed by his former label-mate Terence Trent D’Arby).
“Let Her Down Easy” is thematically one of the most unusual songs in pop music. It is sung from the perspective of a father making a heartfelt plea to the man that has either taken or is planning to “take” his daughter’s virginity. The lyrics are far from subtle.
In her strawberry eyes
The way she sees you signifies
That she’s susceptible to your velvet lies
But if you must lay her down
May a butterscotch glow be her dressing gown
And please do not lead her on when you leave town
Even though there’s nothing I can say
Its just human nature any way
George Michael was never a “run of the mill” artist in any sense of the world – not stylistically, not visually, and certainly not lyrically. Hence, it is no surprise that he was drawn to the track and feels the need to perform a cover version of it. His decision to record “Let her down easy” is well within the realms of his multi-faceted and distinct personality – both as a person as well as an artist.
The song is a sparsely produced ballad that features a piano, light string arrangements in parts, and George’s achingly beautiful vocals. Like a fine bottle of wine, George Michael’s vocal ability only seems to get better with time. More importantly, through his vocals he is able to capture both the beauty of a father’s concern and the sense of helplessness he feels as he tries to communicate with this man that is most likely going to hurt his daughter.
It must be great for an artist that has multiple attributes which people consider to be his core competency. George Michael is one of those gifted few that enjoy this luxury. In our post on “veteran acts returning with new material in 2014”, we highlighted George Michael as one of the artists to look out for in 2014. We could not help but hope that he would indulge the songwriter in him as opposed to just the vocalist like he has on his new Orchestral album “Symphonica” (slated for release in March 2014). While “Let Her Down Easy” might not rank among the best covers he has recorded over the years, it does deserve merit and serves as a good sneak preview of what listeners could hope to hear on “Symphonica”. We just hope this is not ALL George Michael has to offer us this year. In 2012, he spoke about an album of new material that was one of his most commercial (if not his best). We hope this album sees the light of day in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, here is a full-length video clip of George Michael’s “Let Her Down Easy”.
STAR RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
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