The mark of a “timeless” song is arguably its capacity for reinterpretation—the degree to which artists from diverse genres, and of varying sensibilities, might refashion the tune in compelling covers. The more radically a cover departs from the original, the greater the staying power of the original. We could point to a litany of Stevie Wonder recordings which achieve such classic status.
And now comes Rufus Wainwright’s revision of Stevie’s indelible 1970 masterpiece “Sign, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” recorded in support of an L.A.-based charity called The Art Of Elysium.
Wainwright is no stranger to the interpretation of “classics”—his most recent album, 2016’s Take All My Loves, reinterpreted Shakespeare sonnets—and his down-tempo, torch-song rendition this particular Stevie song doesn’t relinquish the original’s general arrangement or aesthetic. Rather, it casts the soulful, celebratory swagger of the original in a breezy, subdued, slightly melancholy mood.