… Of The Week: Elise LeGrow - Playing Chess
By: Tom Hurst
LeGrow is one of the few singers that I have ever heard who sounds better when the recording is live; this is a big feat considering the quality of her studio-recorded content. Her vocals are unique and instantly captivating.
The Canadian singer released her debut album, ‘Playing Chess’ earlier this year through S-curve records, performing rejuvenating covers of choice soul and blues anthems from Chicago’s infamous Chess Records - home to Etta James and Bo Diddley among others.
The composition is genre-spanning and, frankly, puts some to shame. LeGrow and her producers were inventive in the reproduction of each of the songs chosen. The cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’ is a clear example of this. The resulting sound is almost pioneering in its ability to totally reinvent every part of the original song, in a way that is neither better nor worse, just modern and inimitable, while only incorporating the most vital, original ingredients.
I came across LeGrow while watching ‘The Untitled Action Bronson Show’ on YouTube; a talking / cooking show hosted by the rapper Action Bronson. Unfortunately, the episode (as far as I can tell) has now been taken down. I was lucky enough to watch it and stumble across LeGrow’s guest appearance, in which she performed the 7th track on Playing Chess, ‘Going Back Where I Belong’. The performance itself was one-of-a-kind, so you can imagine my joy when I discovered she had just released an album.
See below for a different performance of the same song, as performed by LeGrow, a link to the original by Sugar Pie DeSanto, and see above for her full-length album.
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