Allison Crowe & Band have just recorded a new album. Collectively, 27 song tracks (representing 20 unique song titles) will be released in the New Year from recent sessions at White Rock, BC's storied Turtle Recording Studios and from a live concert in Vancouver, Canada.
Allison's titled the studio set “Heirs & Grievances” and the live set “Introducing”.
Growing up on rock and popular music – before its mass corporatization – it was thrilling to experience the creative vitality, the ideas and sounds of such bands as The Beatles, The Kinks, Mott the Hoople, The (Small) Faces, Pink Floyd... and original voices on the radio and turn-table – Van Morrison, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Luke Kelly, Otis Redding, David Bowie, Elton John, Patti Smith and so many, many, more singular talents.
My rock/pop roots are seeded in a time before Allison and her fellow musicians are born. Thankfully, these new tracks deliver the same, genuine, feelings as did those recordings from such artists emerging in previous generations.
"Soulful. Alive. Joyous. Grievous. Real, true, music is what I want to make," says Allison Crowe. And she does - with bandmates Billie Woods (guitar, vox), Lin Lin (cello, vox), Sarah White (multi-instrumentalist), and Dave Baird (bass).
Melting down some lines lacquered on the body of an earlier water-shed recording of lore, “Introducing / Heirs & Grievances”, today, “is a magnificent album that pays off on every bet ever placed...”
Image: Allison Crowe & Band concert poster – photo by Billie Woods, art design - Lin Lin / Contour Grafix. Audio discs – studio session engineered by Larry “Turtle" Anschell, live recordings engineered by Brad Graham. Coming together in 2016 for release.
The first track on Allison Crowe's new album is "Soul Cake" - a traditional song for souling
The artist, one of our greatest living musicians, singer-songwriters and performers, has always created authentic music.
With this newest song set her voice is heard wholly a cappella.
The songs themselves have a purity of expression – a 21st century take on music of faith and spirit – sounds and themes aired by carollers and soulers of old.
The genesis of “Souling” is found in the bond Allison Crowe's formed with the creative family at Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador. Founded in 1979, this professional theatre company presents a dynamic and diverse repertoire of plays and maintains, as well, a strong commitment to youth theatre in the Atlantic Canada community.
For these past three Summers TNL's engaged Crowe as Musical Director of “Newfoundland Vinyl” - a perennial favourite at the annual Gros Morne Theatre Festival. Following another hit season at GMTF, in late August of this year TNL Artistic Associate SaraH McDonald invited the Corner Brook, NL-based musician to serve the same role with a vibrant production of “A Christmas Carol”.
The Adaptation of this classic Charles Dickens story by playwright Jeff Pitcher, TNL's Artistic Director, excited Crowe's musical imagination – as did the desire of McDonald, the play's Director, to incorporate songs in the style of Victorian Era carollers.
So inspired, Allison Crowe immersed herself in curating the music for the abundantly-talented, multi-aged, choir of singers who'll perform in “A Christmas Carol” at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre from November 27th – 30th, 2014.
This artistic process of selection and arrangement led to her recording solo versions of those songs that will receive another distinct breath of life from the TNL vocal ensemble.
(In parallel fashion, the first season's run of “Newfoundland Vinyl” brought forth Allison Crowe's album of the same name – one of 2013's top recordings. Culture blog Muruch praised it as a “lovely, vintage collection of traditional Irish and Canadian folk ballads, lively sea chanteys and drinking songs, parlour songs and country tunes” possessing “unique charm” and “the timeless beauty of a classic folk album”.)
In 2003, (and expanded in 2004), Allison Crowe released Tidings – an album of singular interpretations - “River” (Joni Mitchell), “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen), “In My Life” (The Beatles) and more from the secular canon – alongside such favourite traditional carols as “Silent Night”, “The First Noel”, and “O Holy Night”. Tidings has proven to be a modern classic – “music for the season and all time”.
This time out, as befits TNL's telling of “A Christmas Carol”, Allison Crowe gives pure voice to the sacred songbook. “Souling” is:
Soul Cake I Saw Three Ships That Night in Bethlehem (Don Oíche úd i mBeithil) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen The Wexford Carol The Holly and the Ivy In the Bleak Midwinter (Cranham) Ding Dong Merrily on High Once in Royal David's City Wassail Song