The last five years have been a funny old time for Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue. The Orange County rockers went on hiatus after touring in support of 2011’s ‘Major/Minor’, after which Kensrue’s musical career took an interesting turn. In Thrice’s indefinite time out he dedicated his time to a somewhat infamous modern church called Mars Hill. There, as a pastor and worship leader, he composed a few EPs and an album with The Modern Post before eventually resigning from his position at the church in light of a scandal surrounding its Lead Pastor. The Modern Post’s output, though not necessarily aimed at Thrice fans, undoubtedly divided opinions amongst the band’s followers as many bemoaned the blatant religiousness of it all. Well, it was created for the church, the Christianity references should hardly be a surprise.
Nevertheless, Kensrue returned to more familiar territory in late 2014 as Thrice ended their hiatus. In addition to that, his fans also got what they had longed for, a follow up to 2007’s ‘Please Come Home’ in the shape of ‘Carry the Fire’. The album was rightfully well received and helped build more excitement for Thrice’s now-imminent eighth album.
‘Thoughts That Float on a Different Blood’ only enhances that excitement. A live acoustic cover album that spans many eras and genres, it is a fantastic reminder of how captivating Kensrue can be in a live setting. The effortless way he can take a song from various sources and put his own emotive imprint on it is something to behold and it more than readies his main act’s fans for having that Thrice-shaped-hole in their lives well and truly filled.
Kensrue has been covering many of the songs found on ‘Thoughts…’ for years, he’s been playing odd runs of solo shows for years without an extensive original catalogue of his own. The most notable staples of his shows included his versions of Cold War Kids’ ‘Hospital Beds’ and a stirring rendition of ‘Round Here’ by Counting Crows but a real highlight was, and still is, his take on Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Many have covered that song over the couple of decades but the way he nails what we’ll ever-so-succinctly refer to as the ‘she runs bit’ is well worthy of the applause he receives from his audience.
There’s also a nod to his peers thrown in with his cover of ‘Jesus’ by Brand New. Again, he handles what many of fans would deem a true classic with a deft touch; he doesn’t stray too far from the original blueprint but Kensrue knows that great songs often don’t need meddling with.
The rather unexpected highlight of this set of covers comes in the middle of the piece. There’s not an iota of irony as Kensrue takes on ‘Wrecking Ball’ by some pop star with a famous father. It would be easy to take it on as a tongue-in-cheek set filler but that isn’t really his style; instead he delivers it in a typically powerful manner which is sure to garner a lot of novelty attention.
Elsewhere there’s covers of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen plus his take on ‘Buzzcut Season’ by Lorde but one look at the actual setlist from these shows make you long for more. For whatever reason, a version of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ as well as a Mumford and Sons cover were omitted from the release which is slightly disappointing but we can’t have everything. After all, ‘Thoughts…’ already does a great job of tiding us over before the main event of Thrice’s return in May.
‘Thoughts That Float on a Different Blood’ is out now via Vagrant Records.
This Dustin Kensrue article was written by Simon Carline, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.