The Smiths Project: Janice Whaley, with Thomas Lennon

This year may be nearly half over, but it’s certainly not too late to catch up with The Smiths Project, an ambitious and impressive effort by San Jose, Calif., musician Janice Whaley to record layered vocal arrangements of every song ever released by The Smiths — all by the end of 2010.

To date, Whaley has posted more than 30 tracks (out of 74 or so total songs), working her way through The Smiths, Hatful of Hollow and part of Meat is Murder, in addition to hitting some rare songs, such as “This Charming Man” B-sides “Jeane” and “Wonderful Woman” — plus a few fun detours, like a jam session with “Reno 911!” star and Morrissey fanboy Thomas Lennon (as seen above in Josh Cadwising’s photo).

On her blog, Whaley writes that she embarked on this project “to reconnect to my ‘inner musician,’” and chose the Smiths’ catalog because, “These were the songs that I listened to through my formative years. The music that saw me through good times and bad … These songs have been in my life for the past 20 years.”

The fun in hearing Whaley’s inventive covers is the variety of different approaches she takes in layering her wonderful voice, from making “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” sound even more detached and mournful by singing it through a Vocoder to her liberal use of vocal distortion on “What She Said,” giving it, she notes, a My Bloody Valentine feel. Or just take in this almost angelic-sounding version of “Hand in Glove.”

Follow Whaley’s efforts at TheSmithsProject.blogspot.com, where you can also download free MP3s of many of the songs. Plus, check out a few choice cuts below.

Hear some of Janice Whaley’s Smiths covers after the jump…

What She Said by blackpiano

I Want The One I Cant Have by blackpiano

Reel Around Fountain (f/ Thomas Lennon) by blackpiano

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