Hear Carmen Villain’s Gorgeous Cover of Kurt Vile’s ‘He’s Alright’
The Norwegian songwriter takes on the 'Childish Prodigy' bonus cut with spacey aplomb
“I’m a big fan of Kurt’s music,” says Carmen Villain of her kinda-sorta namesake, Kurt Vile. “I discovered him when I read an article about new music in some magazine a few years ago. He was mentioned in a short sentence, which led me to check out his album Constant Hitmaker, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite albums. He is a brilliant songwriter — such good taste in terms of textures and harmonies, lyrics, and his vocals, man… All slanted and beautiful.”
Proving the extent of her fandom, Villain and her backup band tackled the recent SPIN cover star’s “He’s Alright” during a studio session at Oslo’s Øya Festival this past weekend. A bonus track off the Philadelphia guitarist’s 2009 album Childish Prodigy, it’s not one of his more obvious hits, but its low-key sense of yearning and spacey atmosphere make a perfect fit for Villain’s own aesthetic. “I covered it because I think it’s a beautiful song and there’s something about the lyrics that I love,” Villain says. “Nostalgic, tender, and soft, but it’s got some attitude.” The same qualities could just as well describe the Norwegian singer’s own hazy brand of melancholia. (In fact, SPIN compared Villain to Vile in our review of her debut album, Sleeper, a SPIN Essential.)
“It’s really great to see that he has gone from a one-sentence mention in some article to the great success and attention he is getting today,” Villain says of her slacker-rock hero. “I would love to do something with him.”
In the player above, watch Villain’s performance, which was recorded during the festival in the WiMP Container, a pop-up studio project from the Scandinavian streaming service WiMP.