As with the making of any good quilt (not that I would know, I took sewing in high school and was so bad at it the teacher had me clipping her grocery coupons instead), there’s a little of this and a little of that thrown in, and that’s exactly what Paula Cole’s American Quilt is. It’s a mashup of covers of various genres weaved together to make this obvious labor of love. I’ll be the first to admit that none of the styles are my go-to musical choices (will there ever be a Paula Cole disco album?), so the majority of these covers are new to me.
Back in 2017, Paula released a jazz and folk cover album called Ballads, and American Quilt is along that same vein. “Wayfaring Stranger” starts the album off with the most Paula Cole sounding song with a kiss of country which is visited again on “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” with a hint of gospel. Paula’s writing voice is heard on the only song penned by her, “Hidden In Plain Sight,” that gets perfectly medlied with the traditional song “Steel Away.”
Shockingly, to me, I’m most drawn to the jazzy sounding songs on this album. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Good Morning Heartache” have a torchy sound. I want to be there when Paula performs them in some smoke-filled dive of a jazz club that’s barely lit by candles on bourbon stained tables. Her devotion to this music is addictive on the scat-heavy “Bye Bye Blackbird” and my favorite track, the bluesy “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)” that tells the tale of financial woes over a perky beat.
I’m not usually a fan of cover albums, especially since I’m emotionally drawn to Paula’s incredible songwriting, but she puts so much of her heart and soul into these songs that she makes them her own.