International quarantining has inspired a lot of really compelling covers out of nowhere, and among the more intriguing I’ve had the chance to listen to this December, a gorgeous version of “Higher Love” from Kamoken and Malou Beauvoir has stood out as a particularly rare find. Stylishly exotic with its incorporation of worldbeat grooves and an elusive harmony that grows more fragile with each passing verse, this version of “Higher Love” takes the Steve Winwood formula to another level of cool – and subsequently revives his classic sound for a generation that perhaps knows how to appreciate it as much as (if not more than) any other before them.
There’s a fair balance between the percussion and the lead vocal in this single that instantly creates some evenness in the otherwise shapeless backend of the mix. There are no major anchors from the percussion or the bassline – literally, the bottom-end tones are amalgamated together so seamlessly that were it not for Beauvoir’s delicate voice, the rhythm might be too abstract for us to cling to. Don’t get me wrong; this is definitely a point of interest, but not something I can imagine a whole lot of other players being able to pull off on their own.
Unlike the Steve Winwood version of “Higher Love,” the transition from the main verse to the chorus feature no dramatic release but simply an implied eruption that never comes completely undone for the length of the song. Malou Beauvoir’s fingerprints are all over this aspect of this cover, as in the past she’s been quite well known for burying a groove in the melodic clouds simply as a means of putting more emphases on her words. It works just as well here as it does with her original material, and that alone is the hallmark of a musician with her own signature style.
I absolutely love the vibrancy of the refrain in this song, and because of how strong it is, I don’t think there was any need to put anything additional into the percussive element beyond what was already in “Higher Love.” There’s no such thing as positive minimization when it comes to making a connective harmony like that which we find in this single, and in terms of hammering home the point, I don’t know that Kamoken could have found a better singer for the task than Beauvoir.
You don’t need to be a major Steve Winwood fan to appreciate the kind of hard work that went into creating Kamoken’s version of “Higher Love” as it’s been brought to life under the command of Malou Beauvoir, but those who are needn’t worry about their favorite song getting trampled here. These are two artists who clearly know their way around a studio in addition to grasping the complete depth of a songbook like that of Steve Winwood’s, and as a result we have a single and lyric video in “Higher Love” that is everything a good cover should be (and maybe just a little bit more).