Review: Kerri Powers Covers the Classics

Kerri Powers/Words on the Wind/Flower Child Recordings
3 out of five stars

Videos by American Songwriter

New England songstress Kerri Powers has come a long way in a career that first found her honing her chops in clubs and coffeehouses before becoming a reliable singer/songwriter ready to assume the national spotlight. With her new release, Words on the Wind, she finds both confidence and clarity in a set of songs culled from a collection of solid standards. In fact, this is clearly the kind of mix tape spawned from a personal playlist, consisting of covers of eternal classics that bank on a familiarity factor from start to finish.

Granted, certain songs — particularly “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face,” “To Love Somebody,” “Mercedes Benz,” John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” and Bob Dylan’s “Cold Irons Bound” — have circulated in the sonic sphere for years, having been covered enough to make any redo seem redundant. Yet Powers puts her own spin on these songs, emoting in a way that brings out the melodies in a clear, less convoluted fashion. The arrangements are bare-boned — mostly just voice and guitar — but they allow the focus to fall almost entirely on Powers’ pleasing vocals. It’s a bold move to be sure, but she carries it off with singular aplomb and in the process, truly makes each offering her own. 

Here again, her take on Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” is an ideal example. She takes the yearning of the Steve Winwood-sung original and turns it into an earnest lament, one conceived with an honest blend of purity and passion.

Words on the Wind ought to serve as an ideal introduction for those who were unaware of her prior to these proceedings, but it would be even more fulfilling to delve deeper into earlier works such as Starseeds and her initial self-titled EP in order to get the fuller picture of her capacity for creativity. Consider Words on the Wind only one indication of Powers’ prowess and potential.

Photo courtesy of Kerri Powers

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