REVIEW: Brett Copeland (feat. Tommy Black, Yohai Portal, Zachary St. John) — Where the Streets Have No Name (SINGLE)
Peeking out from behind a cloud of silence, our first glimpse at a stunning melody that will form the foundation for Brett Copeland’s take on “Where the Streets Have No Name” just might be the most gorgeous of the track. There’s so much optimism here, especially as the guitar strings begin to shimmer and produce a harmonious tonal presence akin to something omnipotent.
Copeland hasn’t even begun singing the familiar verses in this iconic U2 song, and already the sentiments of the song’s narrative are flooding the air around us, unapologetically washing everything within earshot in a sense of much-needed comfort. In the wake of a pandemic that left the music industry and society as a whole completely shuttered for the better part of a year, we receive this quarantine dispatch from a singer/songwriter very much in touch with the significance of this moment in history. While he might not have penned “Where the Streets Have No Name” himself, Brett Copeland interprets the composition all too beautifully in this cover, which I would deem one of the most profoundly emotional of its kind to come across my desk in the last year.
The guitar element here is a star all on its own, even without the inclusion of the stellar backend and nimble vocal leading the charge up at the front of the mix, but when combined with these additional components, I think it’s impossible to escape the swell of the positive mood that arrives well before we reach the halfway point in this track. “Where the Streets Have No Name” was already a buoyant piece of material that didn’t need any help from another artist in finding the right channels to take flight; what makes this rendition of the song so compelling is that Copeland nonetheless finds a way to make it sound more cathartic than it already did. His arrangement amplifies qualities that were already present in the foundation of the track as it stood when U2 first recorded it — he’s merely going out of his way to put an extra exclamation point on statements we might just as soon have overlooked in this particular context.
There are a lot of different ways to go about covering a piece of material that influenced your career, or simply a moment in which you were feeling connected with the medium, but of those I’ve personally encountered in 2021, Brett Copeland’s method has got to rank among the most effective and stinging. In “Where the Streets Have No Name,” he doesn’t present himself as someone simply playing a U2 song — he breathes new life into the narrative through a passionate performance and physicality-first arrangement both geared towards pushing the audience to the edge of our seats.
If all cover recordings were as good and precise in style as this release is, being a critic who reviews such content would be a lot easier (not to mention more fun), but then again, the rarity of this single’s caliber is exactly what makes Brett Copeland the one of a kind recording artist he’s truly become.