Actress and singer Scarlett Johansson may not seem like the most obvious of choices when it comes to collaborating with UK’s gritty Massive Attack, but for the upcoming film, Days of Grace they do just that, covering “Summertime” by George Gershwin. Naturally, the results are quite surprising, and this certainly isn’t a note-for-note cover of the 1930s classic. In fact, it would be difficult to even recognise that this version is a cover of the same song, given its irrepressibly dark atmosphere and sound.
Massive Attack certainly haven’t sounded this visceral for a long time, with “Summertime” coming across through their production methods as a harsher track from the Mezzanine sessions, although its overpowering style is something altogether new, as is the acoustic guitar fade-out near the end. Johansson’s vocals work in the context of the music, although they lack the power of other notable female Massive Attack collaborators, such as Shara Nelson, Elizabeth Fraser or Hope Sandoval. Instead, they carry a breathy quality that works in the context of the track, if lacking in distinction. This is Massive Attack’s song, primarily; Johansson is a relatively slight addition to what is a decent enough mood-setter, and one that will likely work in the context of the film well.