Amanda Palmer is no stranger to projects that might raise an eyebrow, but her newest album, “You Got Me Singing,” is a departure even for the seasoned singer, songwriter, performance artist, and provocateur. A collection of unconventional covers ranging from Melanie to Sinead O’Connor by way of Leonard Cohen, the album is chiefly notable for the company Palmer keeps: Jack Palmer, 72, the father from whom Amanda was separated when less than a year old. The two are now on a brief tour together and will perform at First Parish Church in Lexington, her hometown, on Monday.
“The main inspiration behind this record was to share songs and time with my dad,” said Amanda Palmer, who rose to fame with the Dresden Dolls, in a press statement. “It was a really good reason to spend healing time together, sharing our musical histories, all poetically punctuated by the fact that I was seven months pregnant when we recorded.”
Jack Palmer, a semi-professional chorister who sings regularly at the National Cathedral, said in a press statement that it had been one of his daughter’s songs that started healing their fractured relationship. “Years later, I hope the love that went into this project will perhaps touch listeners in the same way,” he said. A video posted by Stereogum of footage from a recent performance at the London venue Koko reveals a touching bond between the younger Palmer and her father, whose modest strength and gravity contrasts with his daughter’s emphatic flamboyance.
True to Palmer form, “You Got Me Singing” is no cuddly batch of lullabies. Jack altered the lyrics of Phil Ochs’s “In the Heat of the Summer,” linking it to contemporary events and the Black Lives Matter movement; likewise, Sinead O’Connor’s 1983 song “Black Boys on Mopeds,” about a young black man killed by British police, conveys eerie resonances now. Issues of immigration, gay rights, equality, and dignity bind together the songs in this atypical family affair, with an album cover paying unmistakable homage to Bob Dylan’s “Bringing It All Back Home.”
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