by Ryan Snyder

Ah, the covers album. Is there a more effective means of simultaneously delineating an artist’s influences and guaranteeing hand-to-hand album sales after a show? There’s no telling how many units have moved from the trunk of a self-sustain ing artist’s car to the floorboards of an impressed concert goer thanks to sweet renderings of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” New York City indie-soul duo Benyaro have come forth with an offering of their own, ingenuously titled The Cover EP. Songwriters Ben Musser and Bobby McCullough take few liberties in stripping down six tracks that pay homage to late greats like Etta James and Sam Cooke — alongside a tricky turn on Moby — into acoustic treatments that prove “soulful” can come in any number of shades. The sparsest of the bunch, opener “Bring It On Home to Me” is driven by the Hall/Oates-y chemistry between Musser and McCullough. They root Moby’s electro-soul hit “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad” into its most basic components: the alternating refrains and melodies, dubbed into faraway and approximate spaces. It sounds challenging, but the result is gorgeously simple. The EP’s best track is its take on the Coasters’ “What About Us,” where they highlight its intrinsic humor with more than enough call-and-response to move a few units.


Benyaro will perform at the Garage this Wednesday with Mandolin Orange.