Listen to Gretta Ray’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’

She has also shared a stripped-back redux of ‘It’s Almost Christmas In Philly’

Gretta Ray has rung in the holiday season with a stripped-back rendition of ‘Begin To Look Around’ cut ‘It’s Almost Christmas In Philly’, alongside a mystifying cover of ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell.

‘It’s Almost Christmas In Philly’ was already one of the more restrained tracks on Ray’s debut album, but this new version amplifies its emotive weight with bold and reverberant grand piano chords, swelling digital atmospherics that fill the role a string section would, and an ever-so-subtle beat that kicks in towards the track’s end.

Have a listen to Ray’s new version of ‘It’s Almost Christmas In Philly’ below:


“Christmas is right around the corner, so I wanted to give a nod to the Christmas-themed song on my album by recording a stripped back rendition,” Ray said today (December 8) in a press release. “It’s a song about driving through North America with my dear friend Sam while I was opening for Gang Of Youths in 2018.

“It’s the most folky sounding song on ‘Begin To Look Around’, and with this version I wanted to hone in on that even more.”

On her decision to put a warm, piano-driven and glitch-flourished twist on Joni Mitchell’s 1971 track ‘River’ – which initially appeared on the iconic Canadian’s fourth album, ‘Blue’ – Ray said: “Joni Mitchell has always been one of my biggest inspirations. With this cover of her song ‘River’, I wanted to acknowledge how much her song writing means to me. It was such a joy to put my own twist on this song.”

Take a look at Ray performing her ‘River’ cover, recorded live at The Dale in Sydney, below:


Last month, Ray teamed up with Budjerah and Ngaiire for a cover of The Temper Trap‘s 2009 hit ‘Sweet Disposition’. Joined by the Yavusa Choir, the cover was performed as part of the ABC live music program The Sound.

2020 saw Ray drop a suite of covers recorded in isolation, including takes on ‘Love At First Sight’ by Kylie Minogue and ‘New Rules’ by Dua Lipa. The year also came with our first previews of ‘Begin To Look Around’, which officially landed back in August via EMI/Universal. Singles from the record included ‘Passion’, ‘Human’, ‘Cherish’ and ‘The Brink’.

NME labelled the record one of its top picks for August 2021, with writer Alex Gallagher saying: “After years of honing her craft, Gretta Ray takes centre-stage with ‘Begin To Look Around’. The Melbourne singer’s debut studio album is a heady rush, a coming-of-age record that soundtracks the freedom and heartbreak of youth.”

Also this year, Ray shared a bubbly cover of Gang Of Youth’s 2017 track ‘The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows’ for triple j’s Like A Version segment.