Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO
Juliana Hatfield has cranked out solo albums at a quick clip since 1992, but beginning in 2018 the alt-rock songwriter shifted to switching between original LPs and covers of influential ’70s and ’80s artists she grew up listening to as a budding musician. Previous covers ran the gamut from The Police to Olivia Newton-John, but her voice perhaops fits most comfortably with her latest pick: the classically inclined pop and symphonic rock of Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra.
Whereas ELO always pushed every button and mixed in as many studio tricks as possible, Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO makes no fuss on lightly produced versions of “Telephone Line,” “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” and “Strange Magic” (Hatfield wisely selects more than just the blockbuster stadium-rock hits such as “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Turn to Stone,” or “Evil Woman” to cover). The indelible guitar hooks and high-gloss melodies of ELO shine through most on “From the End of the World,” though. Hatfield nails that deeper-catalog track and a few other career earworms from ELO, but her overall style is locked down and less theatrical than even her own recordings.
This latest cover album adventure is raw, enthusiastic, and probably the best effort yet in Hatfield’s ongoing series of hat tips to classic pop and rock musicians. She obviously treats these cover albums with a great deal of respect toward the original artists—she makes each track her own, but doesn’t completely abandon the original’s core identity. Each of Hatfield’s albums possess a freewheeling spirit, and tapping into that ELO likemindedness was a natural next step. We can expect the output every few years will keep pace as long as Hatfield has interests for it.