Transitions can be a challenging time for anyone. For musical artists it can either strengthen their work or it can lead to decline. For newgrass band Mamma’s Marmalade, their newest release puts them in the former category. Fakin’ It: Covers Deserving Coverage was conceived when the group was determining their next move after the departure of bassist Dan Bisson. Rather than release another project of original music, the remaining three members decided to bring in guest musicians and record an EP with their take on songs by popular pop artists that aren’t as familiar to casual listeners. The result is a phenomenal piece of work.
The opening track, This Song Has No Title, was originally recorded by Elton John. Along with fiddler and vocalist Lily Sexton, mandolinist Mitch Bordage, and guitarist Sean Davis, the track is also propelled by banjoist Gabe Hirshfield and bassist Dan Klingsberg. This is one of a few examples of really brilliant arranging.
The title track Fakin’ It comes from the repertoire of Simon & Garfunkel. The rendition here is performed in the Americana vein. The group is joined by Jacob Joliff whose contribution to this track is superb. Also featured on this piece is guitarist Ross Martin and bassist Myles Sloniker.
Highway Patrolman by Bruce Springsteen is another highlight of this recording, in large part due to the lead vocals of Lily Sexton. Her phrasing and overall delivery of the lyrics suits Mamma’s Marmalade’s rendition of the song extremely well. The arrangement is largely based in traditional bluegrass stylings.
Fakin’ It: Covers Deserving Coverage is somewhat of a surprising effort. While these are all songs by acclaimed pop artists, none of the selected material has been overdone. It’s evident that each of the tracks and arrangements were carefully thought out by Mamma’s Marmalade. The guest artists that join them on these five songs all make appropriate contributions. It shows how the group has made the best of the transition in their journey.