Recording a hit single is difficult, but recording a cover of a track that’s already as iconic as an entire era in pop music is something different entirely. Despite the intimidating nature of this task, Pete Muller & The Kindred Souls aren’t showing any signs of hesitation in their take on “For What It’s Worth” this month; truth be told, they’re doing the polar opposite. Adapting the song into something that feels as though it were written for 2021 instead of an America battered by the Vietnam war and an ongoing fight for civil rights, this “For What It’s Worth” couldn’t have arrived at a more poignant time.
There’s no shoving between the instruments to get into the spotlight of this mix; instead, the relaxed groove of the strings leaves everyone with more than enough room to shine as brightly as their talents would allow. It would have been overwhelming were it given any more of an electric edge than we already find it with in this recording, but in this acoustic format Pete Muller & The Kindred Souls don’t sound like mere Americana revivalists – I’d instead call them a band of troubadours straight out of the ancient times that inspired their sound.
The arrangement here is very straightforward – even more so than it actually needed to be – but this element of simplicity complements the talent on the stage we see in the music video exceptionally well. With nothing too rigid or larger than life to tackle in “For What It’s Worth,” The Kindred Souls can be as indulgent as they want from a melodic perspective (ultimately producing what I would say is some of the most magnetic Americana I’ve heard in the past year or two). You don’t need urgency when you’ve got sheer strength, and that’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt here.
I’m definitely not someone whom you could normally describe as being a big cover fan, but what Pete Muller & The Kindred Souls break off in “For What It’s Worth” is a rare treat just the same (especially given the extraordinary period in history we’re living in today). I’d be curious to hear what this group could do in an entire album full of songs originally penned by their biggest influences; as much as it goes against my typical perspective as a critic, I think it might actually tell us a little more about their depth as a unit.
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