Austin Lucas / Frank Turner - Under the Influence Vol. 8 [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)

Austin Lucas / Frank Turner

Under the Influence Vol. 8 [7 inch] (2009)

Suburban Home

Austin Lucas and Frank Turner both had the same mission for their Under the Influence split: Take a relatively peppy tune and turn it into a stark acoustic track. Spoiler alert: They both over-exceed their goals, making extremely noteworthy covers.

Austin Lucas covering a poppy Dolly Parton song may not make sense to the average Austin Lucas fan. But Austin has the edge that we don't: how he hears Dolly Parton's "To Daddy." Dolly's song about a mother bogged down by her husband is anguished, but its internal sadness is hidden by Dolly's cavalcade of country instrumentation. Austin alone with his guitar takes the lyrics front and center and it's absolutely heartbreaking. Such a sparse sound could have been recorded in someone's laundry room, but it hits you on a high emotional level, making it easily the most affecting song of this entire series so far. Would be absolutely appropriate if it became a live standard of his.

I love Bruce Springsteen (I live in New Jersey, if I didn't I'd get kicked out), but I rolled my eyes when I read Frank Turner was doing a Bruce cover for this series. "Haven't we had enough?" I thought. I continued to think so the first time I heard this cover of "Thunder Road"; I thought it was slight and beneath Mr. Turner. A run-of-the-mill acoustic cover? He could do better than that. Then I listened to it again. And again. I started to hear the subtleties and vocal flourishes I didn't hear the first few times and fell head over heels in love with it. The buildups and tear-downs are just as effective as Bruce's original version. Springsteen's solo piano cover on his Live/1975-85 box set is legendary, and at the very least this equals it. If Bruce never made it as a musician, this is how he would playing "Thunder Road" in the subways of Manhattan for change: completely passionate with no pretense, the sound of a man who has seen it all but doesn't have the mansions in the Jersey suburbs to show for it.

Both of these tracks culminate to being the best Under the Influence so far, setting the bar for future additions.