2006: Tuesday, September 12 ~ "This Little Bird" ~ 'official' release
Last month, in The New York Times, Peter
Applebome, (a proud winner of the Bad Hemingway competition), marked four decades of
passage since The Lovin' Spoonful's ("HOT town.")
the City" was number one on the charts.
Reflecting on the song's import, and evolving cultural subtext, the veteran NYT editor and reporter concluded: "One thing that's not in doubt is that it's a good thing the song was released 40 years ago, when you could get it played on radio. Released today, no matter what the temperature, it would almost certainly disappear like an ice cube in a teapot."
John Sebastian, who wrote numerous classic songs - beautiful and playful - for the Lovin' Spoonful, capped things: "The industry has been in the corporate noose for so long, it doesn't even have a leg jiggle left. There's no one left saying, 'Wait we want to make art'."
Joni Mitchell, a sage from north of the 49th, has said of today's popular music: "Now, this is all calculated music. It's calculated for sales, it's sonically calculated, it's rudely calculated."
Still, searching for the young soul rebels is no lost cause.
Advancing her quest to create music with the greatest integrity, Canada' s Allison Crowe releases a new album, "This Little Bird", on October 9, 2006. "Soulful. Alive. Joyous. Grievous. Real, true, music is what I want to make," she says. Eschewing all of the tricks and gimmicks that are today's standard, with this 12-song collection, recorded from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, Crowe, again, succeeds. Testifying. Visceral.
Adding titles of engineer and producer to her vocal, piano and guitar credits, Crowe is joined on most of the album's tracks by the rhythm section of Dave Baird (bass) and Laurent Boucher (percussion). Nine new originals map emotional and spiritual territory with fresh sounds, encompassing: the elegiac "Phoenix"; the ramble tamble "Alive and Breathing"; gorgeous songs of love and hope, "Effortless" and "There Is"; the jaunty dark humor of "Skeletons and Spirits"; the redemptive grace of "Now" and "Phoenix"; the raucous celebration of the title track; a joy of simplicity in "Circular Reasoning"; and "Silence", a song that stirs with romance.
Acclaimed not only as an exciting songwriter and live performer, but, also, as a song interpreter, for freshly definitive takes on Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah), Joni Mitchell (River), Counting Crows (A Murder of One) and others, Allison Crowe delivers a trio of remarkable covers on "This Little Bird". With this new album, the singer-songwriter from the islands gives her singular voice to "A Case of You" (Joni Mitchell's knowing paen to heart and homeland), "Darling Be Home Soon" (John Sebastian's lovely tune of longing) and "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You" (Ronnie Shannon's song best-known as Aretha Franklin's break-out tune in 1967).
When "Sister Re" began sessions at Alabama's Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, legend has it the future-crowned "Queen of Soul" told the assembled studio musicians: "Get your damn shoes on, you're getting someone who can REALLY sing."
The same declaration has been made today of Allison Louise Crowe, iconoclastic and universal, by critics and audiences alike. Hers is one of the truly great voices of this, or any, age.
"This is no ProTool'd and AutoTuned plastic pop opus but a real musician creating a real performance", says UK music journalist Trevor Raggatt of Crowe's previous album release. Ross Hocker, long-time public broadcaster with NPR affiliate WGTE, whose musical taste embraces Thelonious Monk, Bela Bartok and Charles Gounod, calls Allison Crowe's last American live performance "the most honest, heartfelt, and directly intimate concert in my entire life." Essentially, says Europe's premiere music trade journal, Record of the Day: "Allison Crowe has a voice to fall in love with."
Open the windows, turn up the volume, and sing along with "This Little Bird".
Allison Crowe's UK tour dates for 2006 will be announced this month.