Amy Lee, most famous for being the golden voice of goth rock band Evanescence, has proven herself to be a skilled and expressive singer over the years. Since October, Lee has been recording and releasing striking covers of well-known tunes, starting with Portishead’s “It’s A Fire” (1994) and U2’s “With or Without You” (1987), each accompanied by its own music video. The latest addition to this series, released on Dec. 1, is a version of Led Zeppelin’s masterpiece, “Going to California” (1971) — an ambitious endeavor for anyone. Well known as singer Robert Plant’s somewhat embarrassing ode to Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell, the song conveys yearning with powerful vocals and poetic lyrics. Lee’s rendition of the classic song captures the sentiment of the original and features Lee’s manager Jordan Berliant on mandolin and guitar. In fact, it was Berliant’s earlier instrumental cover of the song that inspired Lee to incorporate it as a part of her series.
The best part of the cover is Lee’s incredible capacity for nuance; she approaches the tune with a delicate touch and well-timed crescendoes. In addition to soft, tender moments, Lee is also able to really deliver on the high notes, mimicking the power of Plant’s voice, especially toward the end of the track when emotions run rampant. Though the scratchiness of the Zeppelin singer’s voice is iconic, Lee’s evident classical training gives the song a different kind of impact; arguably, it is just as fitting for the song.
The music video that accompanies the track is pretty stark — a black and white montage of Lee hanging out in the woods and tracking the song in a studio. This simple accompaniment does not distract from the musical performance, and is a much better choice than a gimmicky, overproduced video would have been.
According to Rolling Stone, although there is no news of an Evanescence album coming out anytime soon, Lee is working on solo material to release in the near future. If her cover series is any indication of what is to come, fans can look forward to subtle, beautiful performances and a tone far lighter than the dark underpinnings of her band’s music.