Great songs transcend space, time, and sometimes even genre. Much of what makes a song so special, so timeless is its ability to be something entirely different and uniquely adored by every person who hears it. Every so often, one of these songs is interpreted by a fellow musician, resulting in an entirely new piece of art. Multiply this concept by twelve, and you end up with Poison & Wine, Bill Kwan’s sweeping and melancholic collection of modern songwriting gems.
A longtime fan of all the songwriters on the album, Bill was drawn to the sweet sadness that is the common thread running throughout each song he recorded. Bon Iver’s moody “Blindsided” immediately “haunted me, and I listened to the song a lot to finally realize that it is about a significant relationship in which cheating is going on,” he explains, “I was drawn to the grace and sparseness.” Kwan’s producer Matt Pierson (Miles Davis, kd lang, Brad Mehldau) suggested they multitrack his vocal, changing the sonic nature of the song while holding tightly to the emotional tone.
Blur’s heartbreaking “No Distance Left to Run” addresses the “dire acceptance and resignation” that is inevitable when relationship is coming to an end. Kwan experimented with his vocals again, doubling an octave apart. Adding a slide guitar transforms to song into part rock, part blues, and all very contemporary.