Song of the Week: ‘Sundown, Sundown’ by Federale

A sweeping, satisfying cover of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra

By Conner Reed January 14, 2022

Spaghetti Western-inspired psych-rockers take on Nancy Sinatra; smiles ensue. 

Portland's string-loving seven-piece Federale is preparing to release a new covers EP, Our Side of Their Story, next month. In December, the group put out the first single: a cover of the lush Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra cut "Sundown, Sundown," from their 1967 effort Nancy & Lee.

Federale's version wisely sticks close to the original. The arrangement is the same, all sweeping strings and pillowy drums; a slightly expanded intro and coda stretch it a negligible 10 seconds longer. The vocals, though, inject Hazelwood's disarmingly downtrodden lyrics with a zip of winky anachronism—there's a Lou Reed/Jarvis Cocker petulance to them, lending all the painstaking classicism a slight glint in its eye. For my Haynes-heads: if the original is Douglas Sirk, this cover is Far from Heaven.

Like that gently ironic film, though, most of the track's pleasures are simple and considerable. Federale's love of cinematic sound is on full display, and it's not difficult to imagine plugging this song into your ears and transforming a Trader Joe's trip into an opportunity for full-tilt melodrama. To get you in the mood, check out the music video below, which joins a barrage of evocative, period-appropriate film clips together.

Our Side of Their Story, which also features covers of tracks by Nick Cave and Ennio Morricone, is out February 4. You can pre-order it here. And right under the "Sundown, Sundown" music video, you can subscribe to PoMo's Song of the Week Spotify playlist, updated with a new pick every Friday.

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