Florence + the Machine – MTV Unplugged

Florence + The Machine - MTV Unplugged

Album cover for MTV Unplugged by Florence + The Machine

Nearly every artist can benefit from putting out a collection of their previously recorded studio songs in a different format, whether it be a concert album, an album of acoustic versions or, in the case of Florence + The Machine, an unplugged record. MTV Unplugged is part of the Unplugged series put on by MTV though their output has dwindled since the 90s.

There are two things worth noting with MTV Unplugged. The first is that it doesn’t matter what the setting is, Florence’s vocals really do shine – when she wants them to. Any speculation that might have existed suggesting her voice is the work of studio magic can be put to rest with this performance, especially that extended note toward the end of No Light, No Light. However, it seems that the setting does matter. Many of the songs on here seem to lack the energy that the studio recordings have, almost as if Florence isn’t completely feeling the environment. Songs like Breaking Down and Only If For The Night seem void of the vibrance that their studio-recorded counterparts held while Shake It Out has a nice mellow sound even though Florence sounds bored singing it, belting only when she remembers she still has to finish. Even on the cover of Johnny Cash‘s Jackson with Josh Homme, Florence sounds stiff in the beginning until about halfway through when she loosens up enough to match Josh’s level of energy that the song deserves.

There are some highlights on the record though. What The Water Gave Me stays true to the original except to highlight the haunting qualities of it while Never Let Me Go gains from the chanting aspect of the chorus that suit this type of recording. Both songs are more delicate in their delivery, using the unplugged surroundings to their advantage.

These songs redone in an unplugged setting don’t appear to be in their best interest that would otherwise flourish in a more energetic setting such as with a loud vibrant audience or, as we’ve already heard, in a studio recording where the energy can be expanded more with the production. MTV Unplugged is a good record to have if only to hear the familiar songs done in slightly altered interpretations, otherwise they aren’t improved in any way or likely to impress anyone who hasn’t already been convinced by Ceremonials or Lungs. In other words, strictly for the fans. Two Stars

Tracklisting
1. Only If For The Night
2. Drumming Song
3. Cosmic Love
4. Breaking Down
5. Never Let Me Go
6. Try A Little Tenderness
7. No Light, No Light
8. Jackson [with Josh Homme]
9. What The Water Gave Me
10. Dog Days Are Over
11. Shake It Out
12. Landscape [Demo]
13. Heartlines [Acoustic]
14. Shake It Out [Acoustic]

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