Summer Soft – India.Arie, Jazzin’ Park and the Original SW

Chilling in the crib and just making my way through me emails, I come across this indicator. Now I know India has worked with Stevie especially on his last studio album A Time To Love. I’ve not really bothered about India’s career, but this song is one of my favourite Stevie songs. I am always going on about how this as well as Talking Book’s Tuesday Heartbreak are among the most criminally underrated songs in human history.

So I was always intrigued to hear a cover of it from someone who evidently Stevie admires highly. When it comes to covers you can go one of three ways – firstly do your own thing loosely based on the original and sound great; secondly stick closely to the original and sound great or thirdly sound bad having neither the guts to do your own arrangement, or not even bothering to be anywhere near as good in sticking to the original.

Thankfully this one has followed the second path and is a success for it. I love this faithful rendition of a great Stevie song and maybe it might get me intersted in who this India character is. Maybe.

Now to listen to something that falls into the first category more than the second is this updating of the track by Jazzin’ Park.  Never heard of them before, but they do something rather interesting with the song.  Especially when you hear the chorus and see what they do with it, it sounds as if they heard it a particular way and just did something fresh to it.  I give the group much kudos for doing something that establishes their mark on the song – all credit to them.

Herein though is what the fuss is all about. I think Songs in the Key of Life as an album is overrated.  I think it reached the position it did in the charts and in the reckoning of the music loving public because of the previous four albums.  As an album, as a concept and as a decision to be a double rather than a single it signals the plateau of Stevie’s creative and commercial prowess rather than pushing the boat out that much further.  In my opinion, for what it’s worth.  That’s not saying it’s a bad album, it’s just saying that for the ratings it gets it’s kind of a bit overblown.  What is of no doubt, though, is that it contains some priceless musical treasures and as I am stating most passionately, this treasure is one of the most underrated on the whole album.  I remember watching the documentary they put together on the album and this track was conspicuous by it’s absence.  I wasn’t surprised, but I was saddened as I would have loved to find out the history of the song and how it got together in the studio, etc.  Nevertheless a classic Stevie track in my ears and there’s just so much to love about it I’m doing everything just to keep it to a limited appreciation of a great track.

In any case, chill out to this beautiful song, beautifully rendered in these three beautiful ways. Enjoy.



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