Kate Bush Cover of the Day #44: This Woman’s Work by Maxwell

I’ve decided that the time has come to start winding down this series. I need to spend more of my time off the internet, so I can get more done, and the YouTube surfing that finding new Kate Bushs entails is one online activity I will be cutting. Besides, it’s getting to be a bit of a chore as the subsets of songs that artists actually cover is not that large. So from here on, I’ll start running some of the famous covers that I’ve been saving up, because they were featured elsewhere on other people’s blogs.
To kick off this series of famous Kate Bush covers, the ones that the performers made their own, here’s Maxwell.

This is the studio recording from 2001, I think, but Maxwell first showcased the song on his MTV Unplugged set in 1997. By then, as far as I was concerned, MTV Unplugged was old news, and as I was not a fan of R&B, I never actually heard that version, or this one until today. I did, however know this version by reputation: I have heard, over and over again, that quite a few people think of it as a Maxwell song rather than a Kate Bush song. So what do I think of it, now that I’ve finally heard it?

It’s actually pretty good. I found Maxwell’s falsetto unappealing at first (though better than Angra’s), but by the end of the song, he had won me over enough that I didn’t mind it and simply sat back and enjoyed his interpretation. Then when YouTube decided to play it again, I listened to it again and enjoyed it more.

What struck me, though, was the sound. Listen to it on headphones. Then, listen to the new version, from Director’s Cut. Use this Spotify link: This Woman’s Work 2011 on Spotify or if that doesn’t work for you, go to This Woman’s Work 2011 on YouTube. As you can hear, both Maxwell’s version and Kate’s own re-recording have this chimey reverb shifting between the left and right channels, creating a disorienting beat. The original has more conventional reverb, some of which (I think) is a studio effect, but which blends in with the pedal echo from the piano and does not draw attention to itself. It seems, then, that Maxwell’s version may have influenced Kate’s own new version at least a little bit, which is a first as far as this series is concerned.