King Cardinal Add A Country-Gospel Flair To “Same Drugs”
Chance The Rapper’s “Same Drugs” is a standout track off of one of 2016’s best albums. It’s essentially a gospel song, with Chance playing piano and singing a coming of age tale, a bit of a come down on the frenetic Coloring Book.
In the hands of Denver’s King Cardinal, “Same Drugs” soars with even more gospel-tinged Americana. At almost six minutes, it becomes a wholly new take on Chance’s original.
“Why record it if it’s going to be the same thing with a different voice?” lead singer Brennan Mackey said about the approach.
With the cover, Mackey delivers on something difficult – adapting his delivery to the inflected tones of Chance The Rapper.
The song starts off with a glowing Rhodes piano intro. Then, adding a pedal steel about a minute in, King Cardinal’s “Same Drugs” becomes a stand-alone take on the song. Soon after the backing vocals kick in, you have a whole new exposure to Chance’s music.
“It would be great if this song gets people that haven’t listened to Chance to listen to him,” Mackey said.
One of the pleasures of listening to a band play music outside their comfort zone is watching creativity at work. In the last part of the song, you can hear a Casio glow over the drums of Scott Roush – a real sonic moment.
It turns out King Cardinal is well suited to dress the song up, especially in the backing vocals of Texanna Dennie and a friend who joined up on the “Chance Sessions”.
Mackey said one of the biggest challenges fell on his shoulders – delivering over 200 words of vocals and becoming essential a hip hop arranger. “It makes me appreciate the breath control they have,” he said.
The appeal to cover Chance The Rapper came from a simple ingredient that drive King Cardinal as a band – a strong hook.
“You don’t want to force a sound. How does it seep into your inner connections?” Mackey said.
Listen to “Same Drugs” below.
King Cardinal are following up on their 2017 album Great Lakes – one of the year’s best Colorado releases – with new tour dates. They’ll be at the Underground Music Showcase July 27, Levitt Pavilion August 2, and Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest August 11.
They’re recording material this autumn for a new album. On their Facebook page, they have excellent covers of other artists, too, including Van Morrison, Nick Drake, and more.