It’s rare that an album is so aptly named.  Naked Eyes, the eighties synth-heavy duo who became famous with their 1983 cover of “Always Something There to Remind Me,” return as a one-man outfit following keyboardist Rob Fisher’s death in 1999.

Fumbling With the Covers is an acoustic covers albums featuring a pretty stellar set of songs, featuring, amongst others, Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” and The Beatles’ “Cry Baby Cry.”  Unfortunately, nearly all these interpretations are bland, melodically similar affairs with the only thread between the selections being that the song titles themselves are going to sell the album.

A good cover can come in one of two forms: the radically different, or the authentically faithful.  The common element between these forms is artistic emotion.  A musician usually plays a song he/she loves, and this admiration needs to be evident.  Fumbling comes off as entirely emotionless, and somehow manages to be neither faithful to nor entirely different from the originals.  The only songs that might deserve repeat spins are “Sad Lisa,” which simply by chance stumbles upon the same melancholy of Cat Stevens’ original, and Slim Harpo’s “King Bee,” which finally breaks from the sparse echoey acoustic sound of the album by throwing in a honey-thick harmonica.

Nonetheless, if you’re the kind of listener that enjoys forgettable elevator music, this album is for you.  For everyone else, I recommend throwing off the covers.

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