Track by Track: William Robertson on the 10 covers on Echoings

In January, William Robertson recently released his third LP, covers album Echoings, it features ten covers of songs that inspire him. We asked William to talk us through each of the songs track by track.

William “When Bill kindly invited me to write a companion piece to my covers album Echoings, I spent a while considering how to approach the thing. It was only after realising what linked these 10 tracks – the profound effect they had on me the first time I heard the originals – that I landed on an angle. It’s not often I instantly fall for a song, but these were all exceptions. So, in lieu of a conventional write-up, here’s a brief relaying of those moments of profundity!”

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1. True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston cover)

I’m at a party in Seven Sisters when Anya asks me if I’ve heard of Daniel Johnston. Looming over iTunes, she looks at me all owl-eyed and says, “I promise this will change your life.” She taps the space bar, prompting Walking the Cow, and a shiver rushes through me. Next up, Devil Town, and I’m mesmerised. Who is this guy? But it isn’t until I hear this particular song that the promise is fully realised. It’s revelatory. Like it found me.

2. The Velvet Cell (Gravenhurst cover)

It’s midwinter, early evening, and I’m huddled around a radio in a candlelit Berlin kitchen. The DJ introduces a band from Bristol. And what hits me the most is the delicate purity of the vocal – nothing forced, nothing strained, yet still somehow riven with desperation. Like a guy who yearns to be heard, but is too wearied to raise his voice. Within weeks I own every one of the group’s albums. Within years the singer is dead.

3. Django (Brutus cover)

“This band excite me more than any I’ve heard in a while,” Sarah says, dropping the needle onto the Belgian post-hardcore trio’s second record Nest. Especially owing to this song I can understand why. Never for ever have I felt a punch packed quite like drummer/singer Stefanie Mannaerts’ as she pounds and wails her way through 186 seconds of pure exhilaration. Sold.

4. Am I Wry? No(Mew cover)

We’re sitting in Benjamin’s south London living room, drinking coffee, smoking rollies, when he plays me a track that he’s certain I’ll like. I dig the intro; the guitars sound cool, the drums are pretty awesome. And then the vocal comes in. Not what I expected. I feel dumbstruck, dizzied, as if clobbered over the head by an angel’s mallet. And instantly this Danish band have bagged another fan.

5. The Reasons (The Weakerthans cover)

The Weakerthans, another group I thank my partner for. She includes them on a playlist she compiles for me. Track two. Prime position. It’s my favourite song on there, and after hearing the playlist in full I skip back, giving it a second, a third listen. It’s a playful song that always makes me smile, not least because it’s since become one of “ours”. So naturally I ask Sarah to sing on the choruses.

6. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)

Maybe it’s the wine, or how dreamy the Thames is looking from Tom and Tania’s balcony, the setting sun a-shimmer in its ripples, or maybe it’s simply the joy I’m feeling of being young and alive. But whatever it is, G / Em / C and D have never sounded so exquisite, so elegiac. And what the fuck is that cacophony? A ghost haunting the music?! I don’t know. What I do know is this is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard.

7. April Come She Will (Simon & Garfunkel cover)

Though well-versed on Simon & Garfunkel’s hits, it’s hearing this album track for the first time that inspires me, a diffident kid of 15, to teach myself to fingerpick and form a “serious” musical act – an acoustic duo with my best friend Jon.

8. Weight of the Sun (Trail of Dead cover)

Unfamiliar with post-Worlds Apart Trail of Dead, Sarah and I decide one evening to listen to a few of their newer albums, Tao of the Dead among them. It soon becomes apparent that this is their best since those early works – a feeling that’s confirmed the moment this song begins. I’ve always been a sucker for an elegant melody.

9. In for the Kill (La Roux cover)

It’s the era of Freeview boxes and Saturday morning music TV and I’m watching this new synth-pop duo perform their latest single and I don’t know if it’s the song that first appeals to me or that the singer doesn’t sound much like anyone else and although her pitch is slightly off her voice is cracking and breaking in all the right places and anyway beauty’s only meaningful when paired with imperfection.

10. Leaving in the Morning (Lenny Lashley cover)

I’m born and then 30 years later Lee introduces me to Lenny Lashley and after discovering this song I feel just that little bit less alone in the world.

Album links:

Spotify: https://bit.ly/Echoings

SoundCloud: https://on.soundcloud.com/BZXbA

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.