First Aid Kit’s “America”

Last Saturday, as he often does, Tyler the Cat cajoled me into playing with him. He raced through the living room, circled around and jumped onto the sofa, where he made like a quick caterpillar and crawled the length of its back before catapulting to the floor and charging through the $12 tunnel I picked up at our local Giant supermarket last fall.

He has catnip-filled toys and plastic balls that he likes to bat; and I have my Pono Player. A win-win, if ever there was one. I plugged the player into the bookshelf stereo system, hit shuffle and, while the music kicked in, knelt on the floor and tossed him one of his balls. He scooted out of the tunnel and made like Beckham, dribbling it a few yards before circling back to the tunnel in order to do it again. It’s a fun game.

Anyway, I tend to listen to albums from start to finish, but of late I’ve been using the Pono Player’s shuffle feature a fair bit. It’s an easy way to check the sound quality of the dozens upon dozens of FLAC-encoded albums I’ve ripped over the past few weeks. Sometimes the feature acts the way you think it should: one song by one artist followed by another song by a different act. Other times, though, you end up with a double-shot or, as happened with Anita Carter the other day, a triple-play drawn from one collection. [If you’re unfamiliar with the angelic-voiced Anita, she was one of the Carter Sisters.]

And then you have days like today, where the idea of hitting shuffle seems totally foreign to me. The reason: First Aid Kid’s stunning studio rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.” To wit:

It’s available on a four-song EP that was originally released on vinyl for last year’s Record Day, but can now be had on the usual digital outlets – as well as the Pono Music store. Not in high-resolution, mind you, but regular ol’ CD quality.

It and the three songs that follow – the “Stockholm Session” renditions of “My Silver Lining” and “Stay Gold” plus the new (or new-to-me) “Brother,” which was a bonus track on the Japanese edition of the Stay Gold CD – are well worth the download regardless of resolution. Here’s “Stay Gold”:

Diane says I use “sublime” a tad too much, so instead I’ll simply say this about “America”: It’s transcendent, heavenly and splendiferous. And, I hasten to add, flows perfectly either into or out of any Anita Carter song…

…not to mention Simon & Garfunkel, themselves.

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