Outside the heavy borrowing of the folk and blues traditions, it is a rare treat, with rare moments of perfected clarity (Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower," the Cowboy Junkies' "Sweet Jane") that a cover actually takes a song in a new and exciting direction.
I've never been a huge fan of "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes. Always seemed a bit too up-tempo and premeditated for radio play, while the White Stripes are usually at their best when either grinding out the dirty blues sound or being playful with the lyrics. But Alice Russell, a relatively late comer (at least in fame terms) to the new wave of British soul divas--the same that's brought us Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone, and Adele--slows it down and actually does something new and cool...even, dare I say, preferable to the original.
Russell has been around for a few years: her first album, Under the Munka Moon, came out in 2004. She's released three since then, the most recent being 2008's Pot of Gold. Here, she's backed by Nostalgia 77, aka Ben Lamdin, a funk/jazz creator who won Jazz Album of the Year at the Gilles Peterson BBC Worldwide Awards in 2006. The song was released on a covers album in 2009 by Tru Thoughts Records. Russell was formerly under contract with Tru Thoughts; Lamdin was and is.
On Amazon: Alice Russell / "Seven Nation Army"