There's a wonderland of new music coming this month from Allison Crowe and Band. Before it all hatches, today's bunny trail leads to an Easter egg from years past – "Circular Reasoning" through the looking glass.
First heard from the sensational live recording of Allison Crowe and Band – captured recently at LSPU Hall in St. John's, Newfoundland – is “Verses”. Paul Mercs Concerts, the great Canadian event presenters since 1991, kindly shared this track, posting: “Bravo Allison & Co! Beautiful & whimsical as always, got us jigg'n!”
This next song recording from the same show delivers some choruses! After their wardrobe hijinks, the band returns to the stage and soar with their cover of Sia's uniquely anthemic “Bird Set Free”.
Musicians Allison Crowe (vocals, piano, guitar, fiddle, bodhran), Céline Sawchuk (cello, vocals), Sarah White (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Dave Baird (bass, vocals) & Keelan Purchase (accordion, 12-string guitar, bodhran, harmonica, vocals) recently banded together on the lovely isle of Newfoundland for sessions and shows.
For a flock of creators who live, literally, all over the map it's a rare chance to slow the world a bit. “We had time to experiment, and think more about the larger picture musically,” says bassist & birder Dave. “It's only the beginning. It's just the first we've had opportunity to work the music out without much time restraint. It was fun, relaxed, and productive.”
Melding into one sound and performance experience the rawest of folk roots and the richest of arena rock – that barely begins to describe the originality and freshness of the quintet's music and personality.
Debuting at Corner Brook, NL's Rotary Arts Centre, RAC Theatre Co-ordinator Brad Randell observes, “The performance was absolutely magical.”
Rolling across the rock to St. John's and a concert night at LSPU Hall, magic's afoot once more with Allison Crowe and Band – and, this time, serendipitously, artifacts remain to be shared in addition to golden memories of artists and audience+.
Alick Tsui, the truly remarkable SJ-based photographer, was able to attend Act 1 (the band's NL concerts formed around one set in which Allison played guitar or fiddle, and, post-intermission, a second set of songs founded on Allison's piano tunes) – and Alick captured some iconic images of Allison, Céline, Sarah, Dave & Keelan.
Fortune's present audio-wise, and Allison's SD (memory) card is filled with tracks to be mined.
“This song puts into words a lot of the things I'm feeling in a way that I have a hard time verbalizing clearly. It's been covered a lot. There's the Elvis Costello version which to me has a defiant protest like quality to it (as well as a kind of unique coolness that only Elvis can do in his own way) and the original which is deeply felt and how Nick Lowe sings it today is almost pleading. It really says so much. I hope to fall somewhere in the middle.”
“Cinema changed him and he changed cinema,” Agnès Varda, the great Ixelles (Brussels)-born French photographer and film director, says of cultural confrère, French-Swiss director/screenwriter/critic, Jean-Luc Godard.
JLG's short “Une femme coquette” is filmed in Geneva with credits to Hans Lucas (a nom de guerre the ground-breaking iconoclast used also for writings in 'Cahier du Cinéma'). It's rarely exhibited and seen until its recent sharing online with the world by Australian cinéaste and critic Dave Hesler. (Gracias, Nina, for flagging the original now available in full via YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzpFi0uBmzs and elsewhere.)
This early (1955) creation of Godard, as excerpted here, finds its images meeting new sound – from Canadian musician Allison Crowe. “Effortless” is recorded by Ryan Adams in a log-home of Crowe's friends on Salt Spring Island, BC. “Trying not to try so hard” is the puzzle.
“There is hope,” writes musician Allison Crowe. “That word keeps coming up. It makes me think that maybe it's real. It is resilient. You can try to leave it out but it keeps putting itself back in place. You can try to deny it but it won't stay buried.”
Crowe's writing her first book, “Fluttering” about which she says: “There's a few paragraphs that are just sort of thinking out loud but, for the most part, there's either poems, prose, thought pieces, or stream of consciousness.”
She's composing, as well, for her next album – the artist's 22nd on Rubenesque Records' label. “Rare Birds” brings together again her brilliant bi-coastal band for concerts and recordings.
Right now, here's one of music's great voices and one of rock's great songs – “Secrets (That Aren't My Own)” – a previously-unreleased version from Allison Crowe and Band's “Heirs+Grievances” sessions.