Marika Hackman Brings Intimacy and Hope Back to 2020 with New Cover Album: "Covers"

”The dust settles, the worms dig. And spiders crawl over the bed.”

A flicker of hope at the end of the dark, dark tunnel that is 2020. That’s what “Covers” by Marika Hackman unintentionally delivered. By turning her favorite songs on their heads, to have them reflect her intimate and slightly uncomfortable time Hackman gives us a glimpse into her quarantine queue. 


The raw and wistful renditions of Hackman’s picks bring listeners to the environment that the songs were reimagined in: Socially distanced, and perhaps in her childhood bedroom, staring at a fly, aimlessly buzzing against the window. 


Although she’s in the process of writing her fourth studio album, Hackman has found little creative headspace in this unimaginative time. The album takes a sidestep towards stability during this shaky timeline and I see it as a step towards continuing to do what she loves most; playing music. 


The opening silence of You Never Wash Up After Yourself (Radiohead Cover) is broken by a droning buzz of a fly. Hackman enters with heavy yet steady vocals that send spine-chilling reverberations up and down one's vertebrae. The creepy crawlies of the song (of course being the choral effect on Hackman’s angelic voice and the daunting synths trying to keep up) are reinforced by Thom York’s iconic and poignant lyrics.”The dust settles, the worms dig. And spiders crawl over the bed.” The line conjures up images of a dark post-depressive power pit complete with two months of dirty laundry in the corner and a messy bed with a breathing corpse wasting away (oh my god, that’s me!).


Fourth front the top sits Realiti (Grimes Cover). The original iteration of the song is a poppy ballad shrouded in sharp dance beats and one of those irresistible hard EDM bass lines that makes you forget about your current existential crisis. Hackman’s interpretation of the track takes a more realistic approach. It’s not pushing you to outlive your wanderlust whimsies, it’s telling you that it’s okay to dream of a simpler time. 


Walking the razor-thin line between indie and lo-fi, Pink Light (MUNA cover) is a soft and bouncy song on the poppier end of the spectrum. It’s a tar-and-sweet candy on an otherwise savory assortment of songs. The lyrics are pleading to not be alone tonight and between these pleas we hear the soothing synths and twinkly keys. The song is very much sway-worthy and leaves me thirsty for Hackman’s mollifying utterings. 


Representing the perspective of Hackman’s inner voice, Temporary Loan (Edith Frost cover) is an indirect cover which switches the hetero-typical pronouns to reference she/her as opposed to he/him. The grievances Edith Frost originally expresses play over a southwestern blues acoustic guitar that chugs along like the Amtrak near my apartment. I love being able to hear Hackman's fresh voice on this track. It feels heartfelt and genuine and instills me with the small tingles of adventure and future hope. 


Yeah, it’s a little moody. Yeah, it’s a little melancholy—but on some level, it would also seem insensitive to release an album about cupcakes and rainbows at a time of doom and gloom. 


Marika Hackman’s “Covers”, at first listen is a comforting, yet brooding album—but like most works of passion, it’s worth more than a second listen. It’s honest and stripped-down versions of Hackman’s songs of solitude encapsulate a moment in time that sometimes feels unexplainable. 


It’s unavoidable to make a “dang, 2020 has just been a big ole heap of anxiety and depression” caveat, so (shamelessly) here it is. 2020 has been unfair, lame as hell, dumb, STUPID, and also dumb. There are very few opportunities for validation and this album provided something to me that fulfilled that need. I spent about 5 hours total listening to this album and felt that through every song, I was being nodded to and told “It is okay to not be okay.” Listen to “Covers” by Marika Hackman. 

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