Coco Sumner & Fyfe Dangerfield - Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Dan Round 12/04/2010

Rating: 4/5

Now here's a curious collaboration. With just 500 physical copies on sale, this one-off single from the recently conceived Luv Luv Luv record label is an odd duet between a young rock heiress and a bearded new solo singer, sans his band. Coco Sumner - daughter of Sting, the man who famously only tends to collaborate with his tantric love muscle - is now building up an impressive résumé of collaborations. Having previously worked and performed with the likes of Robyn, Pete(r) Doherty, Mr. Hudson, Natty, Sub Focus and Miike Snow, the I Blame Coco singer-songwriter has now turned to Guillemot Fyfe Dangerfield to assist in providing a cover of the undervalued Neil Young classic “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”.

For many, Fyfe Dangerfield is an unusual revelation as a solo proposition. For Guillemots his pitch-perfect vocal and energetic, emotive songwriting are without doubt among the band's main assets, but he is very much a cog in the complex machine that makes up the avant-garde pop band. However, striking it alone with a slick new sound and look to match, Dangerfield has eased into solo life pretty effortlessly - his debut solo album “Fly Yellow Moon” received largely positive reviews at the start of the year. Ripe for collaboration, then…

On paper, assessing the twosome's union before listening to the song itself, it does all seem a bit shifty; working with up-and-coming pop royalty certainly wouldn't hinder Dangerfield in his attempts at securing his position as a mainstream(ish) solo act while on leave from his band, and from Sumner's perspective appearing on a record alongside an experimental and critically lauded musician would surely help in boosting her indie credentials. After listening to the record however, even the most ardent of naysayers would have to concede that this is an affecting and well conceived duet - whoever came up with the idea.

Entering 25 seconds into the song's breezy acoustics is Sumner's vocal, which has great depth and sounds mature beyond her 19 years. Her lofty jazz-tinged rasp is strong and carries the first verse very well unaccompanied before being complimented perfectly by Dangerfield's low, understated backing in the chorus. The drowsy instrumentation of acoustic guitars, subtle strings, minimal percussion and gentle bass almost deceives the listener before the pairing's powerful vocals ascend in the melodious chorus. Dangerfield begins the second verse with the powerful couplet “I have a friend I've never seen/He hides his head inside a dream”, crooned over sad pianos by the Guillemot in just as poignant fashion as Young in the original. Joined thereafter by Sumner once more, the two very different vocal styles - Sumner high and animated, Dangerfield deep and soft - cohere pristinely in emphatic fashion. Sumner completes the song with a coda that features the dying strains of the chorus alongside unwinding instruments, before the song is finally brought to a low key close by a mellow piano chord.

The curious collaboration really does pay off then - this unusual coupling of I Blame Coco meets Guillemots has provided here a moving and, perhaps unexpectedly, imaginative cover of a classic song. What projects these two immerse themselves in now is anyone's guess, but for the time being we have the first great cover of 2010.

Release date: 12/04/2010

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