Eamon McGrath has produced a starkly beautiful version of Mark Mandeville’s ‘Sleep When You’re Dead’ and we’re delighted to premiere the video on Americana UK. The song originally appeared on Mandeville’s 2011 album ‘Old Constitution’ as a country number, complete with melodious piano and soaring backing vocals. Here, McGrath transforms the song entirely, making it very much his own. Briefly, there’s just McGrath’s warm, characterful voice before he begins delicate, beautiful finger-picking. Immediately, we are drawn into the song’s emotional pull with those weighty words: “Well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead // When I lie in the ground // When my dusty old ashes come fluttering down // With work to be done while still in this world // I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Throughout, the simplicity and directness of the arrangement, just McGrath’s vocal and guitar, creates a surprisingly emotional and human connection. Mandeville’s lyrics are powerful and, with McGrath’s weary vocal, they are full of resignation: “Because we’re taking from her // And we’re stealing from him // And rather than heroes // We’re all thieves in the end.” This visual, filmed by Peter Dreimanis, is similarly straightforward and all the better for it.
Canada’s McGrath started out in punk bands but has increasingly moved towards rock and Americana over the years. He’s an incredibly prolific songwriter, having recorded over three hundred songs. McGrath’s most recent release, the single ‘Cannonball’ has a lush, full instrumental sound and features the exquisite pedal steel of Darrek Anderson. Definitely one to check out for fans of Springsteen.
This is the sixth and final video recorded by Americana artists around the world for the ‘Covid Blues’ sessions presented by Pecan Pie. Previous installments have included The Blue Highways from the UK, Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards. The sessions started in the middle of the wintry isolation of February with Andrew and Alastair Taylor from the group Dropkick. As live music begins to return and artists can look to the future more positively, this is a fitting song to round off the sessions from Pecan Pie. Check it out.