Chromatics cover Jackson C. Frank’s “I Want to be Alone” (1965).
God knows what is going on with Chromatics. We have been waiting for their much-hyped new album Dear Tommy for the better part of the 2010s and there’s still no word on it. Johnny Jewel and co. keep putting a few one-offs every year, but that’s about it. We should know better than to complain about new Chromatics music, though. Pretty much every song they’ve released since 2012’s Kill for Love has been an absolute gem, and their recent cover of Jackson C. Frank’s “I Want to be Alone” is no exception. In fact, the only shocking thing here is how un-Chromatics their cover is, particularly when considering their idiosyncratic versions of classics by Neil Young or Cyndi Lauper.
“I Want to be Alone” remains truthful to the original, Ruth Radelet’s voice sitting atop acoustic guitar arpeggios and minimal arrangements. Her vocals sound less dreamy and more folksy than usual, which seems to particularly suit the song. It’s probably one of the less original songs in their catalogue, but just like whenever Radelet is singing, there is a certain magical charm at work. Chromatics have also released a Johnny Jewel-directed video for the song which, in very Chromatics fashion, features close-ups of Ruth Radelet’s staring intensely at the camera.
An outsider figure not alike Johnny Jewel himself, Frank has long been an indie-favourite for covers – just off the top of my head, Fleet Foxes, Car Seat Headrest, and Laura Marling have covered his music. It’s not easy to do justice to the source material here, but Chromatics do it apparently effortlessly. Will this song be on their new album? Probably not. Does it even matter? Probably not! An exceptional addition to their canon, “I Want To Be Alone” continues the band’s hot streak with covers.