Dance Me – Sterling EQ (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Okay, I’m not the biggest fan of people covering other artists work but if you are going to do it then the art is to bring something new to the song, retain the essence of the original but create a new and sympathetic sonic world for it to inhabit. And that comes from truly understanding what the instigating work was all about. Dance Me, a reworking of Leonard Cohen’s iconic Dance Me to the End of Love, shows that Sterling EQ understand their chosen song implicitly.

For an avid Cohen fan like myself there is so much to unpack here for this version of the song goes deep into the psyche behind the man’s work. Sonically it is a beautiful mix of classical grace and infectious dance which wonderfully mirrors Cohen’s own blends of sophistication and accessibility, his poeticism and popularity. But like all of his work the lyrics are wilfully vague offering multiple interpretations and hidden references which Sterling EQ also pick up on and explore. Is this a face value love song or does the “end of love” in fact describe death? Deeper still, do the images conjured by lines such as “dance me through the panic”, and the references to “burning violin” hint at The Holocaust?

The accompanying video is the perfect mirror to the music, a dance between light and dark, strength and vulnerability, hate and humanity, beauty and terror, even perhaps life and death? But it is the haunting qualities of the music itself that you keep coming back to, the melancholic, slightly east European vibes, the understatement of the melody riding the confidence of the beat, the emotive rises and the brooding falls and the sheer gorgeousness that oozes from its every musical pore.

As I said, covering a song requires an understanding of the subject matter and this is a retelling of that original narrative that the man himself would be proud of. It may be impossible to improve on such classic songs such as Dance Me to the End of Love, but you can hope to take it to new audiences, new sonic realms, new potentials and dream of matching the poise and possibilities of the original. And Dance Me is all the proof you need.

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