Speaking of David Byrne and his many collaborators, here is Nellie McKay’s contribution to Here Lies Love. Nellie McKay is exactly the kind of brainy, New Yorky eccentric that Byrne might consider a kindred spirit. And of course she’s the right kind of kook to jump into an oddball project like Here Lies Love. Not everyone who sang on that record is a weirdo, and though there really weren’t any weak moments, not everyone was able to distinguish themselves. Some of the performances kind of ran together and the singers didn’t bring enough of their own style to it. For instance, Every Drop of Rain, although a great song, didn’t quite work as a duet because Candie Payne and St. Vincent’s voices are nearly indistinguishable. It would have worked just as well to let just one singer handle it. Cyndi Lauper and Tori Amos, though they are very different artists on their own, fell into the same trap on Why Don’t You Love Me? Not to mention I can’t tell the voices of Martha Wainwright, Allison Moorer and Camille apart to save my life. All of those singers do have their own style and come from a wide range of genres, but either inadvertently or on purpose they all gave very similar performances for Byrne. Maybe that’s what he wanted, or maybe they were just intimidated and tried to give him what they thought he would want. That’s not a terrible critique – overall it gave the album a sense of unity. Still, only a few of the singers sang in distinctly their own style. Sharon Jones was Sharon Jones all over and her track is one of the most memorable. Kate Pierson was her usual dog-whistle pitched self, though I though her number was one of the weaker points. I would say that Nellie McKay was very much in her Nellie element here, and she sings what should have been a duet all by herself. Which is definitely something Nellie would do on her own record. In the end, though, I’m just nitpicking. Here Lies Love is one of the relatively rare albums that comes along which not only holds up to its creators’ previous best work, but also becomes an important and fully integrated part of my own musical landscape. What I would call the arrival of a new classic, if that weren’t a pretentious thing to say.