NPR logo

Long Way Home

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129883702/129883800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Mates Of State: Bathing Tom Waits In The Light Of The Sun

Mates Of State: Bathing Tom Waits In The Light Of The Sun

Long Way Home

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129883702/129883800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Mates of State's Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel turn Tom Waits' loping "Long Way Home" into a relentlessly sunny anthem. courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of the artist

Mates of State's Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel turn Tom Waits' loping "Long Way Home" into a relentlessly sunny anthem.

courtesy of the artist

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Long Way Home"
  • Artist: Mates of State
  • CD: Crushes (The Covers Mixtape)
  • Genre: Pop

Mates of State's Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel can do melancholy, and they're experts at infusing their songs with a sense of loving comfort that feels hard-won. But the emotion they convey most effectively, and most often, is a kind of encouraging, even overwhelming cheer. A married couple with young children, Gardner and Hammel sum up their philosophy most effectively on 2008's wonderful album Re-Arrange Us, on which they sing, "Love loud / Don't lose loud."

As romantic and life-affirming as its predecessor is, Crushes (The Covers Mixtape) can't help but feel minor by comparison: It is, as its title indicates, a swoony batch of cover songs — barely half an hour of tributes to Fleetwood Mac, Daniel Johnston, Belle & Sebastian, Nick Cave and more. But, to the duo's credit, the album never loses sight of Mates of State's own giddy good nature.

Case in point: "Long Way Home," which turns Tom Waits' loping original into a relentlessly sunny anthem, complete with a chorus of "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" The transformation is so thorough, it's almost perverse, especially for Waits diehards. But there's no mistaking the result for anything but another catchy and ingratiating Mates of State song, sung in praise of a love that's strong enough to weather adversity, adventure and a few detours down side roads. It speaks well of the duo that it can pay tribute to an unlikely favorite without losing loudness in the process.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.