"I love music and I love Christmas, so it seemed natural to make a seasonal record. It was also fun to create something that wasn't completely traditional, and have a good mix of different songs and styles on a holiday album."
That's how Allison Crowe, in a 2004 interview, described the
conception of Tidings.
In 2003, "Tidings" was created as an one-hour television special ~ and this production still airs each December across Canada on CHUM's A-Channel network and affiliates. In its holiday CD round-up, in 2004, The Toronto Sun gave four stars to only two releases - The Christmas Collection from Frank Sinatra and Tidings from Allison Crowe. In a 2005 poll, BBC Radio listeners placed Tidings among the greatest cover albums of all time.
Upon its original, full-length, release, Joseph Blake of The Times Colonist newspaper declared: "This high concept seasonal sampler is a triumph." Completing a circle of inspiration in Canada's Pacific Northwest, 2006 saw the concept mainstreamed by Nettwerk Records of Vancouver, B.C. with the release of Sarah McLachlan's 'Wintersong" CD.
Since 2004, "Tidings" has also meant a series of benefit concerts - lending a hand to community groups across North America, and, onstage, bringing together traditional carols such as "In the Bleak Midwinter", "What Child Is This", and "Silent Night", with songs of joy, peace, and redemption from the modern songbook. Crowe's much-loved and lauded versions of songs by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Sarah McLachlan join covers of Joni Mitchell's "River" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" labeled "truly transcendent".
This gathering of the sacred and the secular hews to Allison's philosophy: ""Soulful. Alive. Joyous. Grievous. Real, true, music is what I want to make."
Tidings: music for the season and all time.
Videos on this page come from two different sources: 1) Allison's national tv special, Tidings, created by the "Inside Pandora's Box" team (in Victoria, B.C., Canada) under the guidance of Producer Doug Slack and hosted by the genial Bruce Williams; + 2) a recording session at Turtle Studios, White Rock, B.C. filmed by Producer/director Alex Postowoi (lensman for videos by Joan Armatrading, Jann Arden, Bif Naked+). Kudos to Alex's crew - Randy Rotheisler and Karen Duthie for their dedicated camera-work and Shirley Claydon for her editing prowess and care. Steven Rosenberg was interviewer.
Alex labels Allison's performance videos "the antithesis of everything that's out there". Entirely natural, the songs have been recorded in a first, single, take.
Tidings TV Special - Intro
Each year, across Canada, CHUM television stations broadcast an one hour special featuring Allison Crowe performing traditional Christmas carols, and not-so-traditional songs of joy, peace, redemption and passion. Here's the intro to the program - wherein genial host Bruce Williams sets the stage, and introduces Allison - and Pumpkin.
The musical leit motif is from Allison's rendition of What Child Is This (Greensleeves) ~ a carol also performed for this show.
O Holy Night
O Holy Night ~ a carol that Allison Crowe has sung each Christmas for as long as she can remember. This performance is part of her "Tidings" television special broadcast coast-to-coast across Canada each year.
In the Bleak Midwinter
Allison Crowe performs In the Bleak Midwinter ~ a traditional song of the season much loved in the British Isles. This is part of her live television special, Tidings.
Alley's Hot Cocoa Recipe
Canadian musician Allison Crowe shares a favorite, simple, recipe for hot cocoa (chocolate) with a spicy snap :)
The Recipe - Add:
two parts sugar (granulated)
one part cocoa (powder)
with enough milk (liquid) to form a paste - in a small bowl, or other rounded container
Next, place this cocoa paste in a solid-bottom cooking pot and add milk to taste (so it's however chocolatey or milky you like best!) - stir with whisk or fork
Heat gradually, while stirring, to desired temperature - do not bring to boil
When you're ready to serve, add in a dash of cayenne to taste
Angel (Sarah McLachlan)
Indie musician Allison Crowe performs, live-in-the-studio, one of her favourite songs by Sarah McLachlan, also a Canuck - and an early inspiration to the singer-songwriter from Canada's most western shores.
In featuring her musical force, the UNESCO-endorsed New Songs For Peace Project says: "Allison Crowe may not be well-known now but this young woman has the voice and talent to be the next Alanis or Norah. The raw emotions in her hauntingly beautiful rendition of 'Angel' should convince you of her potential." Music journalist Teri McIntyre, in a nod to the artist's iconoclastic approach, writes: "Crowe manages to give the song a refreshing, blown-out emotional take that, for some, may surpass the original."
This performance is broadcast each December across Allison Crowe's homeland - in her one-hour television special called "Tidings". It's produced by Doug Slack and his team at CHUM TV's "Inside Pandora's Box".
What Child Is This (Greensleeves)
Allison Crowe performs her jazz arrangement of What Child Is This (Greensleeves). This live performance is part of the annual Canadian television broadcast of Crowe's "Tidings" Christmas special of seasonal and all-season songs of spirituality, redemption, and release. Joy and peace to all.
Whether I'm Wrong (Allison Crowe) - tv/band version
"Whether I'm Wrong" is another blues-edged song that is subtly political in tone. Crowe wrote the song in New York about all the people she was seeing who don't support the war in Iraq but felt they had no voice in the matter. She decided to give them a voice, and does so starkly and with great conviction." ~ Teri McIntyre, Empowerment4Women (USA)
"Allison Crowe may not be well-known now but this young woman has the voice and talent to be the next Alanis or Norah." ~ New Songs for Peace (International)
Hopes and Wishes Chat
From her Tidings television special,
Canada's Allison Crowe performs the peaceful Silent Night.
"I have a new favourite version of Silent Night." ~ John Kimantas, Nanaimo News Bulletin (Canada)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
Leonard Cohen's song, fittingly described by Allison as "awesome", is seen/heard here in live performance by Alley. It's part of her Tidings television special ~ broadcast nationally in Canada each holiday season since December 2003 by CHUM's A-Channel network (formerly the NewNetwork). The one-hour Tidings special was created by Producer Doug Slack and the New VI's team "Inside Pandora's Box" (CHUM's street-front studio in Victoria, B.C.).
"Simply, a song so beautiful (Hallelujah) has never been sung so beautifully." ~ We Write Lists (UK)
"It's not hard to see why Crowe's Hallelujah -- recorded in a single take -- is popular. It's one of Leonard Cohen's most affecting songs, and the 26-year-old, accompanying herself on piano, makes it her own with raw honesty and formidable vocal power. It's simultaneously heart-breaking and redemptive, and it has captured the imaginations of people around the world. 'The song itself is just so emotionally resonant,' Crowe said modestly this week.” ~ Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist (Canada)
"Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. This song has
somehow become Crowe's signature, if a singer who defies description
as stubbornly as she does has a signature...
Cohen's original version is a spoken poem, all of the meaning contained in the words. Crowe's version is a living thing, a meditation and a celebration and a benediction." ~ anacronyms (Canada)
" 'Hallelujah' is a bit of a sacred cow of a song and has been covered by artists too numerous to mention... I'll go with John Cale's world weary take and Allison Crowe's powerhouse of intensity as my yardsticks." ~ Martin Warminger, Music Obsessive (UK) - January 17, 2009
"But forget about Alexandra Burke's version and listen to what Allison Crowe does with the song. Her voice couldn't be more different from the stereotypical... Here is someone who feels the music and communicates. Simply stunning - full of real power and enormous feeling." ~ Radio Free Stan (USA) - December 18, 2008
Hallelujah Lyrics as Performed by Allison Crowe
Tidings TV Special - Outro + Credits
Tidings Recording Session ~ Turtle Studios
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
A fun little acapella intro for Allison Crowe's
Tidings album: music for the season and all time.
Merry Christmas and all you celebrate!
From Allison Crowe's "Tidings" sessions,
live-off-the-floor at Turtle Studios, White Rock, B.C.
Audio engineer/producer: Larry Anschell. Filming directed and produced by Alex Postowoi. Cameras: Karen Duthie, Randy Rotheisler. Editor: Shirley Claydon. Interviewer: Steven Rosenberg.
River (Joni Mitchell)
"Who cares what I meant? What does it mean to you?" ~ Joni Mitchell
"River... Joni Mitchell's whole album Blue is timeless." ~ Allison Crowe
"An intensely moving rendition of "River," one of my favorite holiday tunes. When the artist sings the crystalline, sorrowful line "I made my baby cry," you can almost feel the tears welling up inside." ~ Carol Swanson, ChristmasReviews & Professor of Law at Hamline University (USA)
"One of my favorites; there is a pinch of Shawn
(Colvin) in Allison's voice, except imo Allison has more punch and
emotional bite in her vocals. She makes singing this song seem easy,
and anyone who's tried it will tell you it's not." ~ Bob Muller,
Joni Mitchell Discussion List (USA)
"Allison Crowe’s solo piano version... may not sound so different from the original at first, but listen again and the subtleties stand out: Crowe’s majestic tonal read turns the song on its ear." ~ Cover Lay Down (USA)
"truly transcendent" ~ Joseph Blake, The Times Colonist (Canada)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
"It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.... It's a rather joyous song." ~ Leonard Cohen The song's creator also notes: "I wanted to write something in the tradition of the hallelujah choruses but from a different point of view... It's the notion that there is no perfection ~ that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances."
"I love singing Hallelujah. It's such an awesome song. I just feel humbled. " ~ Allison Crowe
"Bet you thought you heard all the versions you need to hear of this song, right? Think again, because Allison Crowe has a voice to fall in love with. She is from Vancouver Island in Canada, descended from Irish and Manx stock. She's exactly the sort of artist who can make serious headway on her own label and that's just what she's doing." ~ Record of the Day (UK - Allison's recording of "Hallelujah", has the remarkable distinction of twice being selected "Record of the Day" by this premiere UK music newsletter/tip sheet ~ in August 2004 and November 2005.)
"Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'... it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I am happy to report that Allison Crowe does it justice and then some. Her voice will give you chills. If it doesn't, check your pulse, you may not be alive. It's incredibly moving." ~ Amy Lotsberg, Collected Sounds (USA)
"a thunderously moving aural experience" ~ Teri McIntyre, Empowerment4Women (USA)
"j'ai rarement été bouleversée à ce point par une voix féminine. Pure comme de la glace, puissante et même violente sur la reprise de l'Hallelujah de Leonard Cohen." (en Francais - English translation follows) "I have never been so moved by a woman's voice. Pure as ice, powerful and even violent on the cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah." ~ SplinterMuse (France)
"(Jeff) Buckley especially just blew the song to pieces and every artist after him has tried and failed to put it back together. Until now. Allison Crowe manages to pump 'Hallelujah' full of all the soaring vocals and raw emotion that it requires. And the result is a big beautiful lump in the throat." ~ Muruch (USA)
"HALLELUJAH is absolutely the best version I have ever heard of that song...and there have been some almost perfect recordings of it. But yours takes the cake. Powerful, yet vulnerable. Sexy and innocent. Just amazing." ~ Steven Stewart, MusicFreedom (Finland)
"...a radiant, rousing, celebratory rendition of Leonard Cohen's lovely 'Hallelujah' " ~ Shirley Goldberg, Mo Magazine (Canada)
"Fall Out Boy's 'Hum Hallelujah' includes a choir singing Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah,' which, as performed by Allison Crowe, may be one of the most amazing things ever recorded onto magnetic tape. While 'Hum Hallelujah' isn't as good as Allison's song, it's still pretty good. It's also interesting to hear the Cohen song mixed into a pop punk song." ~ Semper Ubi Sub Ubi (USA)
In a (May 2007) roundup of "The Best Songs of All Time", alongside recordings by Johnny Cash ("Hurt"), Bruce Springsteen ("Jungleland"), and more, Semper Ubi Sub Ubi blog selected "Hallelujah" by Allison Crowe on Tidings, with this explanation: "Quite possibly the single greatest song ever recorded. Undeniably the best female vocal performance ever recorded. This song is best listened to during the winter, near a fireplace, while it's snowing outside. Any room will do, though, so long as it is equipped with good speakers and a light switch."
The First Noel
Allison Crowe performing the traditional Christmas carol, "The First Noel", in a special performance recorded for fans world-wide. An audio recording of this song is part of the "Tidings" album.
In My Life (The Beatles)
"It was the first song I wrote that was consciously about my life. (Sings) 'There are places I'll remember/ All my life though some have changed..." Before, we were just writing songs a la Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly ~ pop songs with no more thought to them than that. The words were almost irrelevant. 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember. I wrote it all down and it was ridiculous... it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did on My Holiday's Bus Trip' song and it wasn't working at all. But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Paul helped with the middle-eight. It was, I think, my first real major piece of work. Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throw-away. And that was the first time I consciously put my literary part of myself into the lyric." ~ John Lennon
"I think I wrote the tune to that; that's the one we slightly dispute. John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune. I remember he had the words, like a poem... sort of about faces he remembered. I recall going off for half an hour and sitting with a Mellotron he had, writing the tune... which was Miracles inspired, as I remember. In fact, a lot of stuff was then." ~ Paul McCartney
"In My Life, looking back at life... is perfect (for the season of joy and peace)." ~ Allison Crowe
"You're about to hear from one of Canada's very best artists. I first heard her live at the lift-off for our beloved colleague David Grierson... I made her promise not to make us cry, but she sang this Beatles tune." ~ Shelagh Rogers, CBC Radio Host & Public Broadcaster (Canada)
"Songwriter and mistress of coversongs Allison Crowe beat out Johnny Cash, Ben Lee, Chantal Kreviazuk and Shawn Colvin covers of In My Life at the last minute. Buy or download all Crowe's albums via Rubenesque - her own label - and you'll know why this Canadian youngster is one to watch for the next half-century." ~ Cover Lay Down blog (USA)
"Crowe improves upon a classic" ~ John Kimantas, Nanaimo News Bulletin (Canada)
Let It Be (The Beatles)
Canadian musician Allison Crowe performs live-in-the-studio, Let It Be. The Beatles songbook is rich for interpreters and this gospel-inflected tune by Lennon and McCartney is one which Allison loves to perform and have audiences sing along. "Let It Be", the audio version, is on Alley's album "Tidings".
Whether I'm Wrong (Allison Crowe) - solo
"Whether I'm Wrong is my song for peace. " ~ Allison Crowe
"insightful social commentary... delivered in a contemporary style " ~ Trevor Raggatt, Wears the Trousers (UK)
"Armed with her strong, bluesy voice and her piano, Crowe delivers a stellar performance." ~ Sarah Towle, The Martlet (Canada)
What Child Is This (Greensleeves)
From Allison Crowe's "Tidings" sessions, live-off-the-floor at Turtle Studios, White Rock, B.C., Canada comes this recording of "What Child Is This (Greensleeves)".
Angel (Sarah McLachlan)Allison Crowe performs "Angel" - a song written by another Canuck, Sarah McLachlan. From Crowe's "Tidings" sessions recorded live-off-the-floor at Turtle Studios, White Rock, B.C., Canada.
Rock videos ~ Tidings videos
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