As a member of Blake Babies and The Juliana Hatfield Three, Juliana Hatfield has already cemented her musical legacy so it only seems right that she should pay homage to those who came before her. Her previous cover album Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John came out of left field, but the album was no less enjoyable. While that cover album may have been a surprise to some, her new cover album Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police is the cover album we expected.
Hatfield’s influences stretch far and wide, from The Replacements to Neil Young, but it seems that The Police have had a lasting effect. Her previous music is reflective of her influences with heavy rock and melodic folk a regular sound and she has poured these genres into this album.
Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police is a compilation of well-known songs with the lesser known gems of their extensive back catalogue. She has deconstructed the drum sections to match her own style and she plays both the keyboards and the guitar as well as half the bass parts, showcasing her incredible musical talents.
Whether you know “Roxanne” in its original form, or the romantically tense Moulin Rouge version, Hatfield’s version is slow, measured and slightly lethargic. Hatfield’s voice is like Sting’s voice, rousing and roaring but the grungy guitars slow it down. It is as if her voice is pulling the song along through a dense deep swamp. It is slow and measured with every note used as a stepping stone to the next one. For fans who are looking for a cover version that keeps the recognizable bounce, this isn’t for them, but it is definitely for those who need a steady rhythm.
With its bouncing rhythm, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” is the most recognizable track on the album. However, it does have a slight hints of The Cure hidden in the muffled guitar line. It keeps the original rhythm and makes you bop just like the original. The only difference is the underlying darkness that bubbles up to the surface.
But when you talk about darkness, you need to remember the classics. The original version of “Every Breath You Take” is painfully honest and heartbreaking, while also sounding a little desperate. However, Hatfield’s version makes it sound somewhat romantic, justifying the vaguely stalker-like lyrics. Dragging us into the song with a synth beat machine, Hatfield’s version of “Every Breath You Take” brings together various genres of music. From simple rock to folk-like melodies, she has turned this songs from a creepy anthem to a justified love song.
This album has is merits, but it’s difficult to decide whether the album misses the mark because it isn’t performed by The Police or because her take on each track is slightly self-indulgent. It is a combination of two cultural tour de force that is best listened to as fun individual tracks.