posted June 7th, 2021

Today, alongside Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg, Matt and Bonny present the “Watch What Happens” b/w “Stay On My Shore” digital single. On their rendition of Superwolves’ “Watch What Happens,” Joan and Nathan slip inside the skin of the tune, adapting the original’s noirish air into a thorny folk classicism and communicating the message of self-reliance with equal parts wonder and stoic, wind-strewn beauty, streaming like nature intended from their hands and mouths. For “Stay On My Shore,” Bonny and Matt unfurl one of Joan’s best-loved tunes. Trading each other’s essential nature, Face/Off-style; they tap raw beauty into music, two ways.

There was a time when new songs got shared around, and when a new song was coming out it wasn’t strange for multiple recording artists to have a go at the song, and oftentimes a new composition would be recorded and released by multiple artists on multiple labels within its first year of public existence.  All you have to do is listen to the first two episodes of the new season of Tyler Mahan Coe’s Cocaine and Rhinestones podcast to get a feel for this phenomenon.  So we’re harkening back to more collaborative and competitive times, when songwriters and singers and publishers and producers knew what each other was up to, when we here release Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg’s take on our new ‘Watch What Happens.’  To be fair and fun, Sweeney and I got our hands really really dirty by thrusting them into the loam of Joanie’s ‘Stay on My Shore,’ which Matt turned from a frank admission of vulnerable love into something somewhat…creepier.  I’ve sung ‘Stay on My Shore’ with Nathan and Joan many many times in the years since its recording six years ago, and I’m thrilled to sing on it every single time.  Each time I sing on it, I try to wring out of it some of the weird hard complexities of my own understanding and appreciation of romantic need; it’s chock full of power and potential to be so dissected and revisited. Matt made it modal and dirgy, as scary as anything Siouxie Sioux or Baby Dee have ever intoned…maybe.  The past year-and-a-half has made many of us workers-in-song reach out over distance to reassure and inspire each other, and here we have joyfully volleyed our musical ideas forth and back, as friends and siblings in the cause.” - Will Oldham

Being asked to cover someone’s song is like being invited to rearrange someone’s room. Already admiring the Superwolves’ furnishings and spatial sense, we found plenty of fun and satisfaction just messing with their stuff, rifling through their drawers, sitting in their chairs, jumping on their bed, and watching what happens.” - Joan Shelley & Nathan Salsburg

Artists in this story: Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy