by Dan Gibson
There's a streaming preview of the new Muppet tribute album up at NPR, and it's sort of worth listening to, especially considering that it's free to check out. There are a few really enjoyable tracks, particularly Andrew Bird's take on "Bein' Green" which seems like a perfect fit for him and his whistle solo, but overall, the whole thing is a little more cloyingly twee for my personal taste. Most of the tracks are delivered in breathy, slow, humorless takes, which seems to be to missing the point. I'm not especially inclined to enjoy the 92.9 The Mountain themed stylings of Matt Nathanson, but his version of "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" (originally from The Muppet Movie) would hopefully be booed off the stage at any coffee shop open mic night for being too overwhelming sincere and devoid of joy.
I'm probably a little too critical of this project, just because they're taking songs that I have a lot of nostalgic sentimentality for, but why cover a song if you don't add anything to it or provide some sort of new take on the original material. I've heard plenty of covers of "The Rainbow Connection", thanks, but the version Kermit sings for the opening of The Muppet Movie is still the best, as far as I'm concerned.
Thankfully, My Morning Jacket might make the entire album worth owning on their own, covering "Our World", a song from the 1977 TV special Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. It's really a beautiful song to begin with, and MMJ take it and make it their own. It's really sort of lovely.