Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Christian Kane – Covered in Glory

I’m a huge fan of Christian Kane and his original songs but I also really love his interpretations of other people’s. He puts his heart and soul into anything he chooses to sing. Country music isn’t a big deal in the UK so I often hear Christian’s versions of a song before I encounter the original and discover that I don’t like it as much. Weird, because I’m usually someone who’s a stickler for the original, for instance, Judy Garland – Over the Rainbow; Frank Sinatra – Well, anything Frank did really. I don’t like the watered-down, limp versions common in the charts today – usually by fey songstresses with affected, insipid vocals, popularised by their ubiquity in adverts: Ellie Goulding’s bafflingly turgid Your Song; Lily Allen’s total crucifixion of Somewhere Only We Know; that awful, soulless Wherever You Will Go by Charlene Soraia.* Whereas these seem to drain the life and spirit out of the song, Christian Kane does the opposite. He invests them with more emotion and verve, making the originals sound just a little colourless in comparison. His voice is a gift – unique but with echoes of Elvis, reverberations of Springsteen. It has a depth and resonance that can reinvigorate an old song, making it seem contemporary and new and real. And it appears totally effortless. His original material showcases his talents even better but that's another blog.
* Of course there are exceptions – Adele’s Make You Feel My Love; the Byrds’ Tambourine Man; Timothy B. Schmit’s Caroline No; the Eagles’ Ol’ 55, Poco's Magnolia.

Apologies if any of these aren’t the originals you know. I’ve tried to put down the writer when I thought it relevant. Links are in the words ‘Original’ and ‘Kane’ if you want to hear what I’m talking about. Obviously Christian Kane has covered ‘ songs live that I haven’t included e.g. Sweet Home Alabama, either because I haven’t heard them, couldn’t find a good version of them or he hasn’t played them that often. 

Fast Car
Original: Tracy Chapman 
Unstoppable rhythm and melody, compelling narrative. I love her deep voice. It has a certain intensity and immediacy.
Kane studio; Kane live: A little hard to listen to owing to the enthusiastic fans singing along and occasionally drowning him out (he loves it). He still sounds tender and true. Plaintive and melancholy but that natural growl lets you know he’s no pushover.
You got a fast car/I want a ticket to anywhere/Maybe we can make a deal/Maybe together we can get somewhere/Any place is better/Starting from zero got nothing to lose/Maybe we'll make something/Me myself I got nothing to prove

The One I Love 
Original: David Gray
I’ve got to admit that I’m not a fan of his voice, thought he bleated like a lamb on his big hit This Year’s Love but this is better.
Kane: ‘Somebody else wrote this but it’s one of my favourite songs’. More rough tenderness, he always sounds as if he’s lived what he’s singing. Passion and restraint.
Next wave coming in/Like an ocean roar/Won't you take my hand darling/On that old dance floor/We can twist and shout/Do the turtle dove/And you're the one I love/You're the one I love

Wary and suspicious
I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
Original: Prince 
The single is bouncy, infectious, unputdownable although I couldn't find it on YouTube.
Kane: This doesn’t completely work countrified (not sure about the fiddle) but it’s very lively and upbeat and it's plain CK identifies with the sentiment.
I asked her if she wanted to dance/And she said that/All she wanted was a good man/And wanted to know/If I thought I was qualified/And I said baby don't waste your time/I know what's on your mind/I may be qualified for a one night stand/But I could never take the place of your man

Original: Ray LaMontagne
Low-key, breathy, mournful but, combined with his very deliberate phrasing, it sounds a little affected.
Kane: ‘It had so much to do with my life – I just fell in love with it’. In Christian’s earnest, heartfelt rendition, there’s a memory of anguish, hard times and misguided youth that makes it affecting.
I found myself face down in the ditch/Booze on my hair/Blood on my lips/A picture of you, holding a picture of me/In the pocket of my blue jeans/Still don't know what love means

Drift Away
Original: Dobie Gray (written by Mentor Williams) Easy-going, laidback, likeable.
Kane: There’s palpable joy in the energy and exuberance in his version.
Thanks for the joy that you've given me/I want you to know I believe in your song/And rhythm and rhyme and harmony/You've helped me along/Makin' me strong/Oh, give me the beat, boys and free my soul/I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

Part cowboy
Should’ve Been a Cowboy
Original: Toby Keith
I can't really fault this. Jaunty and upbeat, a country no.1 in 1993.
Kane:‘I lost country for a while. This is the one of the songs that brought me back.’  Part-cowboy, part-Cherokee, CK rocks out, breathing new life into this song.
I should've been a cowboy/I should've learned to rope and ride/Wearing my six-shooter riding my pony on a cattle drive

Luckenbach, Texas
Original: Waylon Jennings (written by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons), a country no. 1 in 1977.Easy-listening, old-school country.
Kane: Christian reinvents this; it barrels along with enthusiasm and gruff charm and something about his tone really reminds me of Elvis.
The only two things in life/That make it worth livin'/Is guitars to tune good/And firm feelin' women

Part Cherokee
The Dance
Original: Garth Brooks (written by Tony Arata)
Sort of middle of the road, pleasant and inoffensive, Garth has a nice, even tone that’s easy to listen to.
Kane: Only a tiny clip of this. I’d kill to hear more as this is a great appetiser. There’s a depth of experience in the few lines we have here and that twang of a Texan accent on the last word kills me. Also rate Scotty McCreery’s version which, despite his youth, still has gravitas, although not the rueful quality of the Christian snippet.
And now I'm glad I didn't know/The way it all would end the way it all would go/Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain/But I'd have had to miss the dance

Redneck Side of Me
Original: Jamey Johnson (written by Jerrod Niemann)
The instrumentation is wonderful (is that an organ at the beginning?) but the vocal sounds sort of creepy, like a bad uncle, someone you wouldn't want to meet on a dark night and is too much on one level, there’s not enough drama. Great accent though.
Kane: Again, only a tantalising snippet,. In a couple of minutes, he conveys a promise, a threat, gentleness. Listen to the line: ‘I never hunted 'gators in the Everglades’. The softness and timbre of his voice make my throat quiver. 
I never was a roughneck pumpin' crude down the line/An' I ain't logged no timber, sawin’ on them Georgia pines/I can't mix the best batch of etouffee/I never hunted 'gators in the Everglades
(Aside from Wikipedia: Étouffée or etouffee is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine typically served with shellfish over rice.)

'Country music has always been first and foremost in my heart'
I think my main point is that Christian Kane always sounds more than credible because he chooses songs that mean something to him. And he can sing anything. I’m mystified as to why he hasn’t had a huge hit although I know that talent doesn’t always translate into success and am probably not the best placed person to try to fathom the machinations of the country music business. But he’s personable and appealing and let’s face it, fine-looking. By rights, he should have ‘made it’ with any of his original songs, such as A Different Kind of Knight, America High, Rattlesnake Smile or with Let Me Go (written by Casey Beathard and Tom Shapiro), which he begged to be allowed to sing. Part of me thinks it’s because he has more than one string to his bow being an actor too (maybe Nashville doesn’t like the fact that he isn’t solely a musician, that he wants to have his cake and eat it too); part of me thinks it’s owing to the extreme dedication of his fanbase (to some extent drawn from fans of his acting that have got into the music) – it’s possible that this contributes to the mainstream country/rock industry’s failure to take him seriously; or perhaps he’s just refusing to play by the rules. I’ve been watching Nashville and wondering why he hasn’t got one of the major roles. Perhaps they wanted musical newcomers but he would be a shoo-in for a recurring cameo of a roughneck country rocker, perhaps on the wrong side of the law.

Could it be?
I’ll end with this exchange, which sort of sums Christian Kane’s music up.
My Dad asked me what Christian Kane's music was like. I said 'It's country rock' and he said 'Like the Eagles?' I said 'More country' and my sister added 'And more rock'.

Perhaps he’s just too much of each to be fully accepted by either (having played to rock audiences at the Viper Room). But they say this is The Year of Kane. 

He also features in another blog of mine:



  1. Great article! thanks for sharing.. Christian Kane has a way of singing any song and making it his own.. He is just magic that way!

  2. Wonderful article about Christian Kane! I enjoyed your accurate descriptions of his singing. Thank you!

  3. OMG! This was an amazing synopsis of his musical career! He CAN sing anything; listen to "Blaze" if you haven't already! He is the most humble and appreciative Star I've ever met, and he never fails to let his Kaniacs know how much we mean to him. That's why once you've become a Kaniac, you'll never leave and do anything and everything possible for him. As a Kaniac, I, too, have wondered why he has not become more popular and "made it." For the life of me, the answer eludes me. e take all opportunities to get his name out to the public, and it seems to be working a little bit. BUT, we have a long way to go. I must say that I agree with your assertion that he plays by his own rules and the acting and music powers that be aren't happy about that! He will ALWAYS be true to himself, and that's what is most important to him! Thank You again!

  4. Thank you for writing this article about Christian Kane. It is perfectly said. I have often stated that Christian does not do many covers - but WHEN he does, it is amazing! I agree that I like his versions better than the originals, which is quite unusual. He is such an amazing entertainer.

  5. Excellent article! Christian Kane is extremely talented, more talented than a lot of the cookie cutter acts Nashville is herding out these days! He does originals and covers with the same enthusiasm and respect. He has the hat trick in the business, amazing singer, awesome actor, and most of all, a truly remarkable human being. He deserves every bit of recognition he gets, and more. I hope this really is #TheYearofKane!

  6. I am such a big fan! He is such a talented artis! I hope to see much more of him in the many years to come!!

  7. Bloody marvellous!! Thank you for writing this incredible article about Christian Kane. He really is a tremendous singer, musician and showman. Not to mention his acting, stunt work, cooking and the respectful, kind and human side he shows his fans. Kaniacs travel far and wide to see this man for even a brief encounter, so much as a 3 minutes meet & greet is reason enough to cross Oceans for many. His incredible talent needs to be recognised further afield, no matter how loathed we are to share Christian Kane with the outside world!! This is #YearOfKane and let's hope everyone is buckled up tight.

  8. Very good article. I definitely have enjoyed his covers of other songs. He takes the song and makes it his own.

  9. That might be the best blog on #Christian Kane I have ever read, thank you so much for recognizing his amazing talent, but also that he is as genuine as they come!!! Yes, this is #theyearofkane

  10. Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read the blog and for your positive responses. Kaniacs really are gracious. Here's hoping this is his year!

  11. Awesome article! He is amazing at everything he does. I do want him to succeed at everything. But I also hate for him to become less accessible! At lease we have a shot at meeting him when he does meet and greets. I have been baffled why he has not hit it big. I have to believe it is the politics and that he won't play. I suppose we will never know. I just want him to be happy! I was so, so lucky to get to meet him briefly last summer and he was just as sweet as I had known he would be. Thanks for the great write up!

  12. Thanks for your comment. Yeah – that’s the difficulty. You want him to get the recognition he deserves but you know that this will mean he plays larger venues and becomes less accessible. I read an interview with Jared Leto where he bemoans the fact that if you’re taken seriously as an actor, you aren’t as a musician and vice versa. I think it’s probably even harder if your music is not obviously rock or country as CK’s is but a perfect hybrid of both. Glad that he's re-released The House Rules independently as it's a crime that it wasn't available to buy.

  13. This is fantastic. I'm from the Sugar List, clicked on the link from your post today about Grant Hart... and here comes Christian Kane! Reading the blog and all the comments above, I guess I no longer need to think of him as a guilty pleasure. First became familiar with him as an actor-- fine-looking indeed. I've often also wondered why he's not a superstar (yet) in either acting or music.
    Aside from Kane, kudos for the brilliant line "fey songstresses with affected, insipid vocals." Exactly. Sadly, the regretful trend is not simply limited to covers of standards. And it can't go away fast enough.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Never imagined there’d be someone out there who likes Grant Hart and Christian Kane! So far I’ve found someone who likes Grant Hart and Jackie Leven; Jackie Leven and the Kinks – but no one who likes all of them. Went to a CK gig in London at the end of last year and I’ve got to say it was packed and way better attended than Grant’s gig at around the same time which was a shame. This is partly the result of great promotion, the Kaniacs’ devotion (as you can see from the comments, they’re way more active than Grant fans) and probably the fact that he’s younger and hotter than Grant (sorry, babe). But perhaps that’s also his downfall – too pretty to be taken seriously.