What do you get when you exchange electronics, synth, and auto-tune for a piano and cello? Brooklyn Duo and their album Brooklyn Sessions II. The Duo formed in 2014 after the successful reception of Marnie and Patrick Laird’s classical covers of two high-profile songs—Shakira’s “Empire” and John Legend’s “All of Me”—and the Duo has only grown more popular with time as they have covered many artists, including Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy, Sam Smith, SIA, and Hozier.
Brooklyn Duo offers listeners a classical rebirth of contemporary music, the vocals replaced with Patrick’s rich, smooth cello and the thump and grind replaced by Marnie’s impeccable pianistic interpretations. Brooklyn Sessions II, released in May, is listed as pop in the iTunes Store, yet it still provides listeners with the simple—albeit rich—and unimpeded instrumental music in the same vein as their first album.
The ten tracks of their first album, simply called Brooklyn Sessions, offers listeners a nice range of covers, including renderings of SIA’s “Chandelier,” Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” all impeccably executed and emotionally charged. Brooklyn Sessions II offers the same charge, but rather than weaving emotion throughout the album as they did in Brooklyn Sessions, Brooklyn Duo creates a narrative of rising action, climax, and denouement.
The first track of Brooklyn Sessions II is a light cover of Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” and it is followed by a powerful and passionate performance of Wiz Khalifa’s (feat. Charlie Puth) “See You Again”. The album progresses steadily, the movements growing stronger, moving through Adele’s “Someone Like You” to SIA’s “Elastic Heart,” then on to Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.”
Much like their first album, emotional charge seems to be the goal of Brooklyn Sessions II. Yet, after a passionate and zenithal rendition of “Take Me to Church,” which is only the sixth track on the album, the album begins to slow down and change direction. Following a mashup originally by Beck (“Unforgiven / Blue Moon”), the musicians cover the themes of Downton Abbey and Jurassic Park, the album culminating with “The Swan” or “Le Cygne,” by Camille Saint-Saëns, seemingly out of left field.
This narrative, though packed with feeling, lacks the same punch as Brooklyn Sessions, as the denouement of Brooklyn Sessions II does not provide the same fulfillment as their previous album. However, the composition and execution of the covers can be chill inducing, and can provide just as much satisfaction as the original songs.