What happens when ridiculously talented musicians from totally different genres collaborate? Magic. Well, it can be magic. It can also be a disaster. But that disaster is all the more interesting for showing how willing the musicians involved are to collaborate.
Nine-time Grammy Award winner John Legend and Sketchy Details' favorite Lindsey Stirling got together to record a new version of his song "All of Me" from his new album Love in the Future. It's beautiful.
I'm not trying to talk down about anyone here. Trained musicians know how to collaborate. They know how to work together to find a new angle on a project that showcases everyone involved.
John Legend and Lindsey Stirling are very much trained musicians. Legend created a strong framework in the original recording of "All of Me" for collaboration. It is a chord-based piano-driven song with a nice flow of chord progressions. It's simple.
The piano doesn't switch from the simple rhythmic chords until the bridge of the song. A gentle arpeggio takes over with some accents to create just the right amount of tension. The second verse has a bit more experimentation, allowing the story of the song to grow.
The original version of the song has a much gentler vocal than the collaboration with Lindsey Stirling. John Legend goes very soft and sweet, with just a little rasp, and slowly builds to the final chorus. The new version is stronger from the start, giving Stirling more room to play.
Lindsey Stirling picks up on that simplicity and finds room for ornamentation that does not distract from the vocal. In the first verse, she hints at the changes in the piano part in the second verse, switching notes in the chord with just a little riff. The second verse switches to pizzicato--plucked--strings pulled from the piano arrangement at the chorus. From there, she turns the song into a violin/vocal duet, creating backing harmonies that add a bit of Romanticism and tension to the song. The stronger bowing--con legno, or hitting the strings with the bow--going into the almost-a Capella section (a quarter note chord to establish the structure of the song under much longer vocals) give the song a much stronger arc in the cover version.
John Legend and Lindsey Stirling know how to handle their instruments. Their new version of "All of Me" is a beautiful complement to the original recording. It's slightly more Romantic (in the late 18th century music movement sense--big swells, instruments falling slightly out of time while the song continues, gentle ornamentation) and dramatic, but it doesn't lose the essence of the song. A man is putting his heart out there in either version. In the new version, it's like he's rehearsed the story in his head so much he can't help but throw it out there in an louder, more confident voice.
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