Most artistes might, having recited what they may deem a poor performance to paying disciples, slip into a likely intoxicated state of intense self-loathing. But Jamie Stewart isn’t any old artiste, and Nina – his eleven-track tribute to the late, indubitably great Nina Simone – certainly isn’t any old overwrought covers record. For Xiu Xiu excel at the unlikeliest of accomplishments, and judged on Don’t Smoke in Bed and the below rendition of Just Say I Love Him alone, Nina is to be quite something.
To an extent, the latter in fact hears Stewart rein in the esotericism a touch, to allow for Tim Berne’s impressionistic, and at times even Asiatic sax timbres to intermingle nimbly with Andrea Parkins’ similarly subdued accordion lead. Of course, there’s something innately disconcerting about a self-professed, and admirably proud ‘big bi pervert’ crooning crookedly: “If you should chance to meet him anytime, any place, anywhere/ Tell him I was a fool to leave him; tell him how much a fool can care/ And if he tells you he’s lonely now and then/ Won’t you just say I love him, and want him back again.” Although more Francophilic than fetishist, Stewart’s version sûrement makes for his second chef-d’œuvre in as many attempts.
Nina is expected December 2nd via Graveface Records.