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Boomkat Product Review:
Having already delivered a covers album a few years back with Melody Mountain, Susanna Wallumrod returns to Rune Grammofon with another set of reinterpretations, although this time she's sans Magical Orchestra. On the agenda for Flower Of Evil are songs by Abba, Prince, Black Sabbath, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Lou Reed and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - the latter of whom makes a couple of personal appearances as a guest vocalist, taking the role of backing vocalist on Thin Lizzy's 'Jailbreak', which is transformed here into an emotionally wrought ballad, far away from the crunching hard rock of the original. That strategy seems to be something very close to Susanna's heart, as so much of her work here is concerned with highlighting the thread of melancholy that runs through all the best pop music. She needn't look too hard for it on Harry Nilsson's 'Without You', which might lack gravitas were it not for Will Oldham's half of the duet, which dissolves all traces of saccharine. There are a couple of Wallumrod originals on the album, both of which hold up well against the covers, particularly 'Goodbye', which is a little thornier than some of her lighter-than-air previous work. There's a pretty spine tingling turn out of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' 'Don't Come Around Here No More' towards the end, and while it lacks in the quasi-psychedelic muscle of the original - or indeed the version Vampire Weekend have been playing lately - Susanna reimagines the piece splendidly as a downbeat break-up song. The last track on the album is perhaps the most strange: Abba's 'Lay All Your Love On Me' becomes a slightly sinister, even intimidating plea for affection, which is maybe a little too dark for its own good, but this maverick spirit of reinterpretation is surely what a good cover version is all about, and Flower Of Evil as a whole is in no short supply of it.