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Album Review

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, 'Under the Covers Vol. 2'

July 20, 2009
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Rock
Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs Under the Covers Vol. 2
Shout!Factory
ESSENTIAL “ Go All the Way’’

If their first “Under the Covers’’ album was about paying tribute to their 1960s forebears and heroes, then “Vol. 2’’ catches Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs moving into the ’70s and hitting their sweet spots, the songs that washed over them from the radio and their turntables during the years their musical sensibilities were being shaped. Some surprising choices like the Grateful Dead and Yes notwithstanding, it’s mostly gimmes like Carly Simon, a pair of solo Beatles, and some nascent power pop. In fact, some might fit a little too perfectly, so close to the originals that there doesn’t seem to be much point. But they best serve as reminders about what was so great about them to begin with. Hoffs glimmers brightest on Todd Rundgren’s “Couldn’t I Just Tell You’’ (putting the snarl that’s always tucked right behind her vocal cords to good use) and a version of Derek and the Dominos’ “Bell Bottom Blues’’ that’s loaded with urgency, which means they’re playing it correctly. The album’s most brilliant move is giving Hoffs the girl’s lines in the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way,’’ recasting it into a dialogue between the singers and finally putting both parties on equal footing. (Out tomorrow) MARC HIRSH