3 Johnny Dowd: Twinkle, Twinkle
Superb covers album by an artist who can own a song but disassembling and rebuilding it to make it sound like an original.
His take on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star will gives little kids nightmares and the unnamed male in Red River Valley is now a guy who is likely to kill the girl this time around. Dowd becomes a fire and brimstone preacher when he takes over John the Revelator, a part he reprises for album’s closer, the spoken word lament Job 17:11-17. House of the Rising Sun is a song that has been murdered by many a poor boy trying to impress the fairer sex sitting around the camp fire. Dowd is the man who takes his instrument away without blinking an eye and throws it into the flames after he is done with it.
A good cover makes other versions sound bleak and boring and after listening to Twinkle, Twinkle any straightforward take will sound superfluous. What Jimi Hendrix did for Dylan’s All Along The Watchtoweris what Dowd did for these traditionals. He owns them and he won’t give them back now that he has completed his mission to drag Americana into the 21st century.