Amanda Palmer's fans probably best know her father, Jack, as the subject of the Dresden Dolls song "Half Jack," an aggressive, piano-pounding track from the duo's first album which Amanda describes as "about the bizarre feeling of pure biology–of being half my mother and half my father, yet I barely knew him." Or at least that's how fans knew him until now. On her latest album, You Got Me Singing, Amanda teams up with Jack and presents 12 cover songs and a very different look at their relationship.
The father-daughter duo's history of performing together began in 2009 when Amanda started bringing Jack onstage to perform a cover with her. The next step was to record together, of course, and the result is a sweet, intimate album that at times feels more like a private father-daughter collaboration listeners are intruding upon. The album has a folk sound similar to Amanda's beloved ukulele-heavy songs, only this time with Jack on guitar and a theme of parent-child relationships which permeates throughout. In addition to bringing Jack and Amanda together, You Got Me Singing was recorded while Amanda was eight months pregnant with her son, and the way it all ties together is evident in some of the song selections.
Trading off vocal duties, Jack and Amanda's voices complement each other--his deep and strong, hers softer and lighter--yet it's easy to hear the similarities in their voices and how Jack's own musical ability was passed down to Amanda.
Despite the age of some of the songs, they feel incredibly timely, relevant and at times even personal, especially for an album of covers, showing the careful thought Amanda and Jack put into their selections. "Black Boys on Mopeds" and "In the Heat of the Summer," for example, feel current, thanks in part to some reworked lyrics on the latter. Meanwhile, "All I Could Do"--a Kimya Dawson song about being a mother and a musician--seems to express Amanda's own concerns on the subject.
The lone flaw of You Got Me Singing is in its tendency for some songs to sound alike, yet it does offer some great highlights, such as the whimsical "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," standout "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and the beautiful "Glacier," a moving track with a grandiose ending piano and some of Jack's best vocals. And while "Glacier" would've been an excellent end point, You Got Me Singing has a little bit left in it--"I Love You So Much" is the perfect ending to the father-daughter album, with a soft, simple piano melody and repeated, lullaby-like refrain of "I love you so much."
You Got Me Singing is out now and available for download on Amanda's Bandcamp page for $1.