Song of the Week: ‘Twilight’ by Ruth Radelet

The Chromatics vocalist covers the crushing Elliott Smith cut for Kill Rock Stars’ 30th anniversary

By Conner Reed January 28, 2022

When you are through crying to the just-released Japanese Breakfast cover of Yoko Ono’s "Nobody Sees Me Like You Do," might I offer you a gently pulsing take on one of Elliott Smith's best-known soul-crushers to keep the saline flowing?

For its 30th anniversary, the Portland-and-Olympia-based record label Kill Rock Stars has been dripping out covers of its artists, by its artists. In December, one-time Chromatics front woman Ruth Radelet threw her contribution into the mix: a soaring take on Smith's "Twilight," off his posthumous LP From a Basement on the Hill

Radelet's version goes for small tweaks over a wholesale reimagining—it's no enormous leap from the original's cinematic strings to her ethereal synth beds. But where Smith's composition feels (intentionally) earthbound, Radelet allows her cover to soar: in place Smith's guitar-and-choked-up-vocals opening, Radelet begins at the piano, and sets her sights skyward.

Lyrically, the "Pale Blue Eyes" of it all ("I'm nice to you / I could make it through / That you're already somebody's baby") benefits from liberal dollops of reverb, and the whole thing is tailor-made for staring out a rain-soaked window, whenever you feel like getting around to that. 

Check out the full cover below, and below that, give PoMo's Songs of the Week playlist a spin and a save; it's updated every Friday. Also, if you would like to send me one million dollars for making it to the end of this column without a single Twilight joke, be my guest, spider monkey! 

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