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review: Walk Like a Cow debut cover album

Some debuts don’t feel like a first. Cover albums are can be even tougher to keep fresh. But, Walk Like A Cow sounds like a tried and true band who have already claimed their “sound”.

What’s in a debut?

A cow walking down a road on the cover of the debut album by "Walk Like A Cow"

When Mac Ritchey reached out to ask me to share the new cover album from Walk Like A Cow, I couldn’t resist turning that sharing into a review. Mac and his collaborator, Dave Boyd, have created a cover album that honors the originals. At the same time, they clearly are adding their own spice to this funky mix.

First of all, Mac’s main instrument is the oud, and Dave’s is bodhrán. Theirs is not exactly a typical instrumentation for a rock album. But they more than pull it off. Add to this their other Middle Eastern, Celtic, electronic, and “found” (check out the wine glasses on Sign O’ The Times) instruments, and you have a recipe for a delectable audible feast.

Next, Mac is one of the finest recording engineers and producers I know. His skill in the studio comes through clearly in this recording.

Cover songs galore

Selecting only six cover songs from the decades of rock had to be a bit of a needle-in-the-haystack search. When you download their album from BandCamp, you’ll get the details on how they chose these particular tunes and the story behind the duo’s name. Furthermore, they obviously know the performances of these songs by the original bands. In each cover song, you can hear how they have stayed true to those original versions.

Ritchey and Boyd share singing duties in Walk Like A Cow. Sometimes, it’s obvious when the voice changes, but the lead voice shifts effortlessly between the two on the first song. (Someday I hope to pick Mac’s mind about his vocal tracking.) Here, even the unaccompanied singing feels natural and smooth.

The album opens with a Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) song, “Oh, Well”. The great energy and superb recording kiss your ears from the first oud lick. I can’t decide if this is my favorite track because it’s the coolest of the six or just because I heard their sound here first.

Cover album heaven

The other five cover songs are also well worth your time (and your dime). Next up is “Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky” by Allen Toussaint. In this track, you’ll hear, among the array of instruments, a talkbox. (If that effect doesn’t ring a bell, think Joe Walsh on “Rocky Mountain Way” or Peter Frampton on “Do You Feel Like I Do”.) As you can imagine, there’s a great funky groove in this one.

The Police were a trio that many musicians admire. Now, Walk Like A Cow is proving they’re in that number with a cover of “When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best of What’s Still Around.” They’ve created a great twist by recording this during the pandemic.

Walk Like A Cow

Walk Like A Cow turns to a more traditional song on track four: “Wayfaring Stranger” is often covered, but never with this instrumentation. Finally, the last two tracks are “Sign O’ The Times” by Prince and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. Check out Mac’s oud solo in that last song.

Truly, this cover album is worth a download and multiple listens. These tracks are loaded with hidden gems that you simply cannot pick up on the first hearing.

I think we’ll be hearing more from this duo. And I certainly hope so. Theirs is a sound worth hearing again and again.

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