If Vanessa Carlton had released a cover of Elliot Smith in the early 2000s, the backlash would have been tremendous. But at this point in her career, almost a decade removed from the pop charts, Carlton has quietly carved out some indie cred for herself and covering “Needle In the Hay” doesn’t seem so out of the blue.
Her cover is surprisingly faithful to the original. Although Carlton has more vocal range than Smith, she doesn’t really flex it on the cover. So if you are expecting Carlton to “A Thousand Miles” the song, you’ll be disappointed but for fans of Elliot Smith the cover is a nice homage.