TALIA KEYS Delivers Diverse Trifecta Of Crucial Covers [LISTEN]

photo: Jesse Justice Photography at Stansbury Island

With an infectious dose of sultry and a scorching serenade, Salt Lake City-based Talia Keys unleashes a fresh new sound with this scintillating take on a timeless chestnut. The woozily intoxicating “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of These)” finds the singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/social-activist pivoting to a different lane than some fans may be familiar with; tapping into Eurhythmics’ eternally-ethereal vibe while still mutating the soundscapes with futuristic synths, industrial guitar tones, shuffle on the snare and assertive kick drum thump. At once nihilist and inspirational, the track offers observations of the quest for inner fulfillment, and muses on the desires that motivate us all.

“Sweet Dreams” transcends the label “classic”; the song has long levitated in a rarified air of pop music royalty. Iconic Eurythmics vocalist Annie Lennox’s pioneering androgynous style no doubt a North Star for Talia in more ways than one, and within Keys’ stacked, stirring vocal harmonies lies an unspoken passing of the torch at play. Talia’s performance embodies the vulnerability inherent in the original number, yet her trademark bluesy verve swiftly bubbles to the surface, injecting a dash of authentic defiance. She was ably-assisted on this single by Ryan Conger, the first of a trifecta of crucial covers on the way from Keys.





Ms. Talia Keys wields something special; Utah’s famed firebrand just knows how to take firm hold of a tune, climb inside that number, inhabit a character, and make that joint her own. Whether a biting song by her hand, or in the case of “I Put A Spell On You”, an inter-generational chestnut dating back nearly seventy years.

Though primarily made famous by Bay Area freedom rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-penned classic traces gritty roots back to 1956, and remains an essential part of the American songbook to this day. Over the years, this haunting R&B cut has been touched by trailblazers like Nina Simone and Annie Lennox, and later reimagined by British-Egyptian siren Natacha Atlas.

A bold choice to cover, Keys at once dials into the vintage, while ushering in a contemporary vibe that nods towards neo-soul. Subtle electric piano makes a plush–yet-understated bed for her Leslie-drenched guitar work; Talia digs into her blues bag with a determined wail, a choice tone that owes a little sauce to jazz giant John Scofield. However, the star of this song is her lead vocal, injected with a confident, raw, intimate vulnerability that makes the listener a spellbound believer in just over three minutes.


Though growing up an outspoken queer female musician in the conservative confines of Utah has come with a mountain of challenges, Talia Keys wouldn’t change a thing. Through her sizzling guitar, pulsating drums, or bold, bluesy and ultimately believable vocals, she communicates the realities of her struggles and surroundings in song. On “Seven-Nation Army”, Keys’ third in a trifecta of tremendous cover songs, the activist-musician once again accomplishes this mission, revealing a magnetic reinvention of The White Stripes’ 2003 smash hit with all the venom, verve, and pizzaz we’ve come to expect from this fiery Salt Lake City siren.

“To me, Seven Nation Army is about not giving up. If people are talking behind your back, you still push through. About fighting to exist, and then existing loud and proud.”  explains Keys. “The track has always resonated with me; as I’ve pushed through barriers and biases just to be let into the music industy. I’ve been mocked, ridiculed, talked about and hated on since my career began. So to me, the song represents a battle cry – to not let anything hold me back.”



On Talia’s gritty reimagining, “Seven Nation Army” is again driven by an assertive, four-on-the-floor drum beat, which introduces the tune faithfully, and powers a pulsating groove. It’s a humble nod to The White Stripes’ beloved drummer Meg White, who inspired Keys behind the kit as “a powerful woman owning her space.” The cut features a very-effective half-time switch-up on the bridge, creating an enormous pocket that just jumps inside your ear holes.

Tracked at Man Vs. Man Music in Salt Lake City and with Scott Cambell in LA, Talia handles the lion’s share of instrumentation on “Seven Nation Army” (drums, synth-bass, guitars), and unleashes the searing vocals that make this riotous homage definitively hers. Keys is ably-assisted by repeat-collaborator Ryan Conger, who contributes prominently-placed organ swells, while Michael Sasich deals in greasy slide guitar. The star of the show here is clearly Talia Keys, who delivers another vibrant update to a certified classic dreamt in her own image; and by the time you get through listening to this heater, it’s crystal clear why her name is on the marquee.

words: B.Getz


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