By Huntress Thompson
A fairly late entry to our Christmas countdown is Guy Garvey and Myleene Klass’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s holiday heartbreaker River, which will have you in tears faster than being prodded in the eye with a candy cane.
Released in 1971, River is one of Joni Mitchell’s most widely-covered pieces. Written in sunny California, it’s also especially relatable this side of the equator – “It don’t snow here” either, and a White Christmas is pretty much a geological impossibility. There really is nothing like a sore heart around the holidays, and we can feel especially sorry for ourselves without so much as a snowflake to set the mood.
Guy Garvey is of course critically beloved as the frontman of English indie outfit Elbow, having once earned the descriptor “the all-round thinking woman’s beardy crumpet”. He also has a name in radio, presenting shows on BBC 6 Music and previously XFM.
Media darling Myleene Klass first shot to fame as part of cerebral think tank Hear’Say, and has since released solo albums as an accomplished pianist.
Last Friday night, Garvey and Klass joined the acoustic line-up for the Save the Children’s Chistmas Tree at Islington’s Union Chapel. No one does gruff and bleak quite like Guy Garvey, and he manages to bring Joni Mitchell’s heartbreak firmly home without the aid of the texture and sonic layering that made Elbow records so affecting.
In the vacuum between dark and light, Siouxsie Sioux and Emmylou Harris, Amelie and Travis Bickle, Huntress Thompson is an idiot lost, and reporting from the field. If you’re after irrational rants about cupcakes and Johnny Cash (and you probably aren’t), she’s grumpy, but she’s your girl.