In 2012, Beck put out his first set of new solo songs since 2008′s contract-fulfilling Modern Guilt. The catch: Song Reader was a collection of sheet music, so enterprising fans would have to play the music themselves. Since then, the alt-pop icon has performed the material at a handful of star-studded concerts, and just this year he released an album you can and should hear, Morning Phase, but he isn’t done with the songs on those sheets.
Yes, Song Reader is headed for a recorded release — with another impressive lineup of performers. Due out July 29 (pre-order here) via eyeglass maker Warby Parker and Capitol Records, the full-length will showcase versions of the songs by Jarvis Cocker, Jack White, Jeff Tweedy‘s Tweedy band, Laura Marling, Eleanor Friedberger and Beck himself, among others. Art-pop heroes Sparks were the first confirm their presence on the tracklist, which has since been acknowledged by Beck’s reps.
“Like a kid getting a special package in the mail and opening it up with anticipation, these interpretations of songs from the Song Reader book have surpassed what I could have imagined when putting the book together,” Beck says in a statement. “The book addressed the idea of a song in its most elemental form, letting others give it a voice. It amazes me to hear how these musicians have made the songs their own and in the process revealed that the interpretation is the living breathing soul of the piece. These interpretations have made the book something new — something better.”
Beck co-produced the set with Randall Poster, the veteran music producer behind recent compilations saluting Fleetwood Mac and Buddy Holly. Cocker, for one, is among musicians who helped Beck perform Song Reader material live last year. Warby Parker and the artists’ proceeds from the album will benefit 826 National, a nonprofit focused on expository and creative writing for students ages 6 to 18. When not touring behind Morning Phase, Beck recently found time to work on a song for Jenny Lewis‘s new album, Voyager.
Watch Beck, Cocker, and others perform “Don’t Act Like Your Life Isn’t Hard,” from the first full Song Reader concert last July in London, below, and scroll down for the tracklist.
Beck, Song Reader (Warby/ParkerCapitol, July 29)
1. Moses Sumney – Title of This Song
2. Fun – Please Leave a Light on When You Go
3. Tweedy – The Wolf is on the Hill
4. Norah Jones – Just Noise
5. Lord Huron – Last Night You Were A Dream
6. Bob Forrest – Saint Dude
7. Jack White – I’m Down
8. Beck – Heaven’s Ladder
9. Juanes – Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard
10. Laura Marling – Sorry
11. Jarvis Cocker – Eyes That Say “I Love You”
12. David Johansen – Rough On Rats
13. Jason Isbell – Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings
14. Marc Ribot – The Last Polka
15. Eleanor Friedberger – Old Shanghai
16. Sparks – Why Did You Make Me Care?
17. Swamp Dogg – America, Here’s My Boy
18. Jack Black – We All Wear Cloaks
19. Loudon Wainwright III – Do We? We Do
20. Gabriel Kahane with Ymusic – Mutilation Rag