Erasing Clouds
September, 2004

We Could Live in Hope: A Tribute to Low (Fractured Discs)

We Could Live in Hope: A Tribute to Low very much lives up to the second half of its title. This is not a collection of reinterpretations of Low songs; it is very much a tribute, bands faithfully expressing their love for Low by trying to capture some of the magic they feel from Low's music. In other words, these are close-to-literal covers for the most part. The stripped-down setting and slow pace of Low's songs are mostly retained, as are the sincerely articulated emotions. If you're a Low fan, in these 12 artists you will recognize kindred spirits, and in their songs you will feel a glow. If you're new to Low, this album will give you a sense of their songs' unique power. If you're looking for Low to be radically re-contextualized, you'll be disappointed. For me the album works as a totality, as a cohesive love letter to Low, with especially gorgeous contributions from Kid Dakota ("Lullaby"), the Winter Blanket ("Drag"), and The Strugglers ("Cut"). That said, my favorite song on the album is perhaps the least faithful of a cover - Mark Kozelek's country-folk version of "Lazy" sounds more like a Kozelek song than a Low song, though it retains the band's spirit, much like his many covers of AC/DC did. And I'm also quite taken with Idaho's "Rope" and Migala's "Words," both of which push the spaced-out side of Low to extremes. So even as I admire and enjoy the strength of devotion that resonates through We Could Live in Hope's most straight-forward covers, there's a part of me that finds even more to appreciate in the versions that push the boundaries of the songs a bit.

- dave heaton

this review is/was online at Erasing Clouds
and is available here for archival use only