Something of a curiosity, this: as beautiful as the stringy version of “Landed” is, this is not a song that ever needed a string section bursting through and demanding to be heard. Take that away, and you already have one of the great piano melodies up front. You know – the kind that you might imagine yourself playing even though in reality you can just about get through chopsticks and that bit at the beginning of Für Elise. Perhaps that’s just me.
It’s surprising that the strings don’t work better here, since the arrangement was by Paul Buckmaster, who has a wealth of experience and a reputation to match, having worked with Bowie, Elton John and Nilsson among many others. I’m willing to concede that my problem with the strings here may have something to do with the fact that I was already very familiar with the other version of the track before I heard the strings version. However, I don’t think that tells the whole story: with the addition of the strings, when the chorus comes, the piano seems to me to be pushed back in the mix slightly; it gets swallowed up by the strings, and the emotional range of Folds’ playing is muted. The same fate befalls the vocal harmonies in the chorus, and even the big finish loses something amidst the violins.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a great song – just not quite as great as its stringless sibling.