I’ve been told that the best way to celebrate having a new website and the crushing realisation that you’re hurtling towards 30 so need to do something about this writing lark is by waxing lyrical about an awesome new tune. So that’s exactly what I’m going to spend the next couple of hundred words doing.
Said awesome new tune, is in fact a new take on an awesome old tune, but you get my point. North London native Saint Clair aka Emma Toplinski has taken a pop classic and made it her own. I know that’s such a terrible cliché but it’s true. When approaching covers artists tend to fall into one of two traps. Either they record something akin to well produced karaoke or they focus so much on making the song sound different that they produce something which is just… well… crap. However, there is a magic sweet spot where all of the best covers exist, and that rarefied air is occupied by the likes of Motohead’s version of ‘Heroes,’ Jimi Hendrix performance of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ et al. Those songs sound like they belong to the covering artist, and that is exactly what Saint Clair has accomplished here.
I’m Still Standing is taken from her upcoming EP D2 which is due this April and as is often the case inspiration came from a slightly random source as she explains “I was touring in Australia last summer, and after exhausting almost every film on the long-haul flight home, stumbled across the Disney film ‘Sing’. The gorilla performs a rip-roaring version of ‘I’m Still Standing’ which reminded me how much of a banger it was. So I got my laptop out and started playing around with how to approach it differently and ended up making it into a proper cover.”
The first thing that struck me about the song was how crisp it sounded. Like a brand new fiver the track is so sharp it feels like it could cut you. Clair’s vocal is nothing short of outstanding, and the stripped back, sparse instrumental leaves plenty of room for that vocal to shine. The 1983 original managed to carry a defiant air despite being bouncy and easy on the ear and this mellow and deceptively melodic 2018 incarnation does the same.
Saint Clair is certainly an artist on the up. Let’s face it you don’t get to share stages with the likes of Laura Marling and Bastille if you can’t hold up your end. Look out for this young lady as I feel we’ve only seen a fraction of what she could be capable of.
D2 EP Track Listing
- Human Touch
- I’ll Stay
- I’m Still Standing
- Human Touch (Seemore Beats Remix)