|Chelsea Hotel No.2|
|Wake Up (live)|
|I Don't Know|
|Throw Your Arms Around Me|
|Going Home Tonight|
|No Matter the Battle|
|Throw Your Arms Around Me v2|
Review to come.
|By Your Side|
|Sea Of A Million Faces|
|What About You|
|Whether I'm Wrong|
|In Love In Vain|
|A Murder Of One|
|Believe Me If All|
|Crayon And Ink|
|Pray For Rain|
|I Dreamed A Dream|
|Me And Bobby McGee|
Review to come.
|It Came Upon A Midnight Clear||Play|
|In The Bleak Midwinter||Play|
|What Child Is This||Play|
|Let It Be||Play|
|The First Noel||Play|
|In My Life||Play|
|O Holy Night||Play|
|Shine A Light||Play|
Tidings is back for a second year but with 6 additional songs. In the world of movies everyone dreads sequels as they usually are a cash in and nowhere near as good as the original. However in music it is rare to have sequels, and most of them are great, with the exception of compilations like "The best movie music in the world ever... 3"!
Tidings is a very successful extension of the 2003 EP, partly because Allison made the effort to go back and record the additional tracks at the same venue as last time. This has meant that no track stands out as having different acoustics. Secondly is the way the additional tracks were slotted in, but more on this later.
Hallelujah used to be the bold opener on the EP but on this EEP it is bumped down a few places to allow an even bolder and natural opener to take its place. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear is an a cappella track which by its starkness through lack of accompaniment meant it could only have been placed at the start or end of the album. The cavernous echoes and Allison's voice pierce the winters night chill and make all ears around perk up as they wait for the next track to be instilled.
The piano into of Joni Mitchell's River then starts, and is a brave song choice given how much this song is loved. So how does Allison's version compare? Well Allison's jazz leanings mean that this is a very good cover. It does only make it two number 2 in my favourite versions of River, but this is by no means an insult, Joni's version is in at number 3! Allison's version is only bested by an Indigo Girls version recorded in a concert (on the 1200 Curfews album release). However what River does perfectly is lead nicely into Hallelujah making neither track feel out of place.
Following on from this is Silent Night and In The Bleak Midwinter, which I've reviewed previously. What Child Is This is a Christmas tune which many people may not know however you will know the music that it is set to: Greensleaves, albeit in a modified form. I must admit the piano on this track is great and gets in your head in a way that is usually only managed by pop songs which you don't want to remember, "hey Mickey you so fine, your so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey"! apologies in advance for anyone who is now got Hey Mickey in their head now ;)
Let It Be is the first of two covers of a Lennon and McCartney penned Beatles song. This is the first time this track has been available on an Allison Crowe album rather than on a compilation with other artists. Although not a traditional Christmas song it's sentiment and style fit in with the season. The second and my personal favourite out of the two is In My Life and IMHO Allison managed to better the original with a far more emotive rendition. Well done Ally :)
The First Noel slots in between the two Beatles tracks, and it is a traditional performance of the song with a jazz-blues vocals and a particularly nice vocal finish.
The album finishes with the three remaining tracks from the EP version: O Holy Night, Shine A Light And Angel. (mentioned in the previous review). So in summary: the same warm and fuzzy feeling as last time and a few new personal favourites for me. What you waiting for buy it :D
|Raining In Baltimore||Play|
|Secrets (That Aren't My Own)||Play|
|Sea Of A Million Faces||Play|
|What About You||Play|
|Joan Of Arc||Play|
|Whether I'm Wrong||Play|
The first full length album from the Canadian singer-songwriter is a more quiet and subdued affair than her first two half-albums. This is due to Allison splitting her current creative output onto two albums. The first of which is a mostly solo album consisting of slow laid back tracks. The second album due in the second half of the year, entitled Alive And Breathing, is going to be a rock influenced album, and from the few tracks that I have had confirmed to me it should be a full on rock/grunge affair.
Two of the tracks on Secrets are re-imagined versions of two tracks from 6 Songs + (Allison's first half album), Midnight and Philosophy. These two may initially grate with old fans due to the fact these tracks have undergone a metamorphosis from high speed rock tracks to an almost Norah Jones laid back speed. However given time these two really grow on you even when you head is still singing the original! However of these two Midnight fits better at this speed. Other songs which other fans may know from previous material are Montreal and Whether I'm Wrong, both of which have been available on Allison's web site for download and also on compilations.
Present on this album as with all Allison's albums are her trademark vocals which are as ever unique. It is so rare that you hear a voice so completely original that you honestly cannot compare her to any other single artist! If I had to compare her voice to others I would have to mix Andrew Wood (Pearl Jam) with Sarah McLachlan and Eva Cassidy, but somehow even this formula of exemplary artists barely scratches the surface.
Showcasing the softer and delicate side of Allison's voice is a cover of Counting Crows Raining in Baltimore, accompanied by only a piano, this is a really nice cover of a beautiful song and from the way Allison sings it you could be fooled that she wrote it, such is the insight. The title track of the album, Secrets (That Aren't My Own), sits very close in terms of the style to Raining In Baltimore, albeit with moments of forceful vocals.
In keeping with all the best singer-songwriters there are plenty of songs of a confessional style with inward gazing lyrics which allow you both get inside the writers head, but also your own. It's this kind of distant close connection that keeps fans of artists such as Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan and Tara MacLean coming back time and time again.
For me the stand out tracks on the album are Whether I'm Wong, What About You, Secrets and Raining in Baltimore. I know I'm being greedy picking four tracks but I could have picked many more, such is the quality on offer.
So if you have read my other reviews you might be asking can you ever say anything other than praise? Well the only really two negative things that I could say about Secrets:
1) The only song to has a faster tempo is Sea Of A Million Faces and as such without a peer it feels slightly out of place.
2) there are no printed lyrics in the CD booklet, which is a shame. I'd of happily paid more for a version containing all of Allison's Lyrics. (Allison's lyrics are available on her web site). I do know however why the lyrics of the covered songs are not printed, and many of you may not realise this, by printing the lyrics you have usually have to pay songwriter royalties again. Cheeky eh?
|In The Bleak Midwinter||Play|
|O Holy Night||Play|
|Shine A Light||Play|
Firstly I'd like to say it's really rare that you get a good Christmas album with no turkeys (sorry!) on it. I only know of one other Christmas album that I can say this of and that is Jewel's album Joy and this album is in no way inferior to Jewel's offering. Like Jewel's album this includes a mix the traditional and modern Christmas songs.
Lets be honest, how many Christmas albums do you listen to outside of the season? but as I write this it is July and I'm still listening! I must have played it 15-20 times since new year. If you buy it you'll probably do the same to, and hopefully you'll have neighbours understanding enough not to call the men in white coats!
The first track Hallelujah feels though as if it was composed with Allison's voice in mind as it just fits like a glove. From the softest verse to the forceful and frank choruses it is simply a joy to behold. It makes no pretence that everything is perfect at Christmas it strongly hints at the darker and colder side of the season.
Following straight on is Silent Night and just like Hallelujah this is not the usual sugar coated soft delivery, It's believable for a start! From the first chorus you know you are listening to something special and then a cool bass kicks in courtesy of David Baird.
In a similar moment of delight is when on Holy Night when the first verse goes by accompanied only by a solitary piano, then drums (Kevin Clevette) kick in enthusiastically for the start of the chorus. The rest of the track goes buy with plenty of flourishes in which you could be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to a jazz band.
The album then kicks up a notch! You can really tell this album was recorded a single session. I have a sneaky suspicion that if I pulled out the power lead out that the CD player would just keep on playing running on the bands energy alone! This is the feeling you get whilst listening to Shine A Light, it's full of life and you can tell that the band had a lot of fun playing it.
Then as if to calm you back down and send you peacefully on your way this track is followed by a cover of Sarah McLachlan's Angel. However this version hold as much in common with Sarah's soft version as a wooden kayak does to a battleship. Allison really uses this track to show off the full vocal range from fluffy clouds to a raging tempest. She finishes of with a really, really long vocal solo that has me believing that if she ever gave up singing that she would be quite adept at pearl diving.
|Crayon And Ink||Play|
|Midnight (2002 Single Version)||Play|
Wow! what can I say about his album. Adrian (Allison's manager) knows all too well how hard this review has been for me to write. Lets just say that I'm on my fourth rewrite of this review and none of them are completed! Part of the problem of this album to review is that I find that it takes me to different places depending from where I start. This is why the album is so brilliant and also so rare. Let me explain ...
This type of album is what I call a "journey album", simply because listening to it is a journey inside yourself or inside others and it simply takes you somewhere else. There are so few albums like this, when you find one you know it is special. For me this places 6 Songs+ in the same league as Jewel's "Pieces Of You", Sarah McLachlan's "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" and Tara MacLean's "Passenger". This was the album that made me interested in Allison.
Of course these type of albums are very personal and what may be a Journey album for one person could mean nothing to someone else. However if you like any of the three artists that I mentioned, then I think you are going to love this album.
This album exists in three forms "6 Songs", the original, "6 Songs +", which has the single version of Midnight as an extra track and "Lisa's Song + 6 Songs" which includes Lisa's Song which was made to help fund the search for Allison's missing friend Lisa Marie Young. (Details can be found on Allison's site about Lisa).
6 Songs+ has really eclectic sound and draws from many different and sometimes seemingly unmixable music styles including grunge, jazz, scat, gospel and rock, however it works. In that way it has the same kind of magic glue that held all of the Smashing Pumpkins albums together.
The first track Fade Away is a soft dream like song that has you floating along in Allison's voice as the song washes over you. Later listenings find you listening to the words behind the track and the reason for the way this track is sung.
The second track midnight was the one that really started to get Allison noticed which lead to a single release and a music video being made. The video version of midnight is also on this version of 6 Songs. It's very close to the original save for some additional instrumentation on guitar.
Dark Blue and Scared are both grunge inspired songs which show off Allison's love for Pearl Jam, but with her distinct and ocasionally jazz influenced vocals. However these two tracks are polar opposites in emotional terms which is how they can get away with being adjacent to one another on the track list! While Dark Blue is well erm, blue, Scared is about defiance and home truths.
The penultimate track on 6 songs+ Philosophy which has to be one of my all time favourite tracks. It starts with fast paced almost dance speed drums then Allison joins in on piano and fast vocals leading to a scat chorus. The energy throughout the track is on complete overdrive. It's completely mental and I love it!
Well that's the best review I think it is possible for me to write about his album, given how personal it is to me. And for those of you wondering this is now my fifth rewrite and it's assembled from the scraps of the others. Hope it read ok ;)
|Crayon And Ink||Play||Download|
|On The Air||Play||Download|
Live @ Lucky was recorded by a fan at Lucky Bar in Victoria, British Columbia on a MiniDisc recorder. It was not a direct sound board recording and suffered from a lot of hiss and noise, made worse further by MiniDisc compression and a low recording level.
In May 2003 Adrian, Allison's band manager, sent me a copy so that I could have a go at producing some website content. However I was so taken aback by the magic of the live tracks that I took it upon myself to use my audio editing skills to clean up the recording. After a few months of toil I was rewarded with a remastered disk that was to reward me every time I put it into my Hi-Fi to play.
I sent a copy back over the big pond to Adrian so that he could enjoy it to. He loved it and it got him thinking of the possibility of a live album. One of the real gems on this disc is "Unstable" which is to be recorded for the new album "Alive and Breathing" which is due out sometime in the fall of 2004. You can listen to it in here it's original form.
This bootleg has some brilliant covers including Ani DiFranco's "32 flavours", Tori Amos's "Playboy Mommy" and Pearl Jam's "Indifference". One highlight for me is the transition from Allision's "Philosophy" to Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" in a sort of mini-medley.
There are also other two really songs by Allison on this bootleg, "On The Air" and "Disease". So in short this album is a treasure trove for all Allison Crowe fans, whether it be unreleased tracks, exemplary covers or different takes on old songs.
Enjoy the remastered version.