Music Review: “Skinny Love” Bon Iver vs. Richard Stirton

Sorry for the late post! I have been sick lately so getting this post out was a little difficult for me.

 

This week’s Music Review will be a throwback for many – all the way back to 2007. For today, we’ll be reviewing Bon Iver’s infamous song “Skinny Love”. This song became quite popular during its time – resulting in many covers being made.

 

Let’s start off this review with the classic:

Bon Iver released this song as a part of For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007 as a part of their debut album. Bon Iver, rather than being just one singer, is an Indie folk band from the U.S. that was founded lead singer (and songwriter) Justin Vernon. “Skinny  Love” has been considered in reference to his relationship with Vernon’s ex-girlfriend but Vernon stated that it was “about that time in a relationship that I was going through; you’re in a relationship because you need help, but that’s not necessarily why you should be in a relationship. And that’s skinny.”

This song isn’t necessarily ear-catching but it focuses more on the minimal sounds – guitar, banjo, drum set and layered voices – an aspect of this song that is quite interesting and new for this time. In a sense, this song could be seen as a dip into experimental music and digital music – but it still stays within the realm of indie music.

Song rating: 7/10.

Instrumental was simple, and not heavy on the ears. Singing and voice layering had an incredible effect and kept the listeners engaged and intrigued.

Moving on to the featured cover…

This cover was first performed on The Voice of South Africa by Richard Stirton, who eventually won on that show. He is the first winner of The Voice of South Africa and is only 22 years old. “Skinny Love” was the song he auditioned with for the show.

Stirton’s voice holds quite a different timbre from Vernon’s voice. Stirton’s voice has a much huskier quality than Vernon’s, and there is no vocal layering on Stirton’s cover of this song.

Instrumental is minimal (I’m quite impressed this was taken in one shot as well). Vocal timbre and quality was new and refreshing. Passion and emotion could definitely be heard, and extremely good vocal control was displayed.

Song rating: 8.5/10.

 

 

Overall, Stirton’s cover won this one for me. Vocally, he was much better than Vernon. But let’s not forget the vocal layering techniques that Vernon was playing around with through this track – Vernon was doing something quite new and unusual for indie music of that time. The indie feel definitely was more evident in the original song but the cover certainly isn’t bad, since it has a more acoustic feeling.

What are your thoughts on the original song and cover?

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