It takes a certain leap of hubris for a musician to go all-covers on only his third solo album
. That’s especially true for someone like Adem, who’s still fighting to gain exposure for his own rather endearing tunes.
So what does Takes accomplish? Well, it proves that this dude has a pretty sweet record collection, and presents a tidy introduction to his sonic template. Still, while his readings of the songs that molded his musical tastes are heartfelt, they’re rarely illuminating.
Not surprisingly, Adem’s choice of covers focuses on quiet, moody pieces: Low at their lowest (“Laser Beam”), Yo La Tengo in an unguarded moment (“Tears Are In Your Eyes”), and the opening salvo of PJ Harvey’s career (“Oh My Lover”). Adem has proven himself worthy of rampant introspection on previous LPs, but without any detours to brighten the décor, Takes slips toward comatose during its middle passage.
At its best, however, the album manages to shine some light on lesser-known classics (Lisa Germano’s “Slide,” dEUS’ “Hotellounge”), and even provides one inspired reinvention. Near the end of the set, Adem strips away the shoegazing gauze that once surrounded the Breeders’ “Invisible Man,” unmasking it as one of Kim Deal’s sweetest-ever pop songs. Glockenspiel and strings carry the melody in tandem, while a ghostly chorus of backing vocals swoons along to Adem’s impassioned belting.
It’s a tantalizing moment, but in this case, the cavalry arrives too late to save the day. Give Adem his props for chancing a foray into the cover album field, a move which always carries its risks. But Takes simply doesn’t warrant much attention, no matter how much its material means to its creator.