Next month Beck releases his new collection of music—it's not an album, it's a songbook published by McSweeney's called Song Reader. Rather than record these new compositions, Beck is sending them out into the world as sheet music, a callback to the days before recorded music became widespread, and songs were passed along as printed pieces of paper.
But if your sightreading skills are a little rusty, and that piano in your parlor woefully out of tune, Portland Cello Project have offered their take on one of Beck's new songs, with a vocal from Lizzy Ellison of Radiation City. "Old Shanghai" seems to consciously be a throwback to the languid, parlor-song era, a lightly jazzy, melancholy ballad with a sepia-tinted hue. Portland Cello Project's version of "Old Shanghai" premiered on WNYC's Soundcheck blog last week, and PCPer Doug Jenkins had this to say:
The feel of the song, the nostalgic lyrics, the way the chords develop, is old-timey (much like the whole aesthetic we've seen thus far of the Song Reader). Lizzy's voice is perfect, steamy, sultry. The trumpet part is more or less as Beck wrote it. Cellos are improvising on the sax and tuba parts, and the rest of the strings and the ukulele are laying down a dreamy bed of sound which is intended to sound lush and nostalgic.Take a look at the video above, and download it over on Soundcheck. Portland Cello Project play two of their famed holiday concerts at the Aladdin Theater on Thursday, December 13 and Friday, December 14. I bet this song makes an appearance amid all the Christmas music.