...a live performance by Allison Crowe
Leanne Fessler, The Lethbridge Insider
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
In these dog days of summer it's easy to imagine just how well a tall glass of ice tea would hit and satisfy the spot. This is probably the best illustration one could offer to explain how refreshing a musician like Allison Crowe is amongst a world array of Britney Spears. No incredulous backup, no typical pop template, no baby-baby's - rather, Crowe is the real deal.
I had the privilege of listening to Allison Crowe and her accompanying band live at Hugo's June 30... and what a show it was. Myself, I had never heard of Crowe before but was intrigued and drawn to her show by her poster which stated she had received a musical recognition from Jewel. Knowing Jewel's truth-to-self style, I figured it was worth a watch. Prior to the show, I caught a glimpse of someone sitting in the booth behind me, that someone being Allison herself. I took the opportunity to have a quick exchange of words with her. Relaying that I was looking forward to the show and asking how she evolved to the present point in her career, Crowe carried on a very down-to-earth conversation. In fact, she struck me as quite modest and attention-shy.
Crowe began her set out with a few solo, melodic pieces involving just herself and her mastered instrument, the piano - almost as though it was a personal introduction to the crowd who had come to watch her. She quickly managed to grab the attention of all in the crowd with an extremely powerful voice and a set of lungs that must hold up for an impressive period of time underwater. Yet, just as importantly, she was able to offset such strength with a sensitivity that gave her music the best of both spectrums.
Stylistic comparisons thrown-out included Sarah McLachlan, Nelly Furtado and Fiona Apple. It is easy to envision pieces and parts that have led to such comparisons, but I also feel Allison Crowe does in fact hold her own when it comes to stylistic elements. The best way to describe such are to go directly to the songs she chose to cover, knowing that usually artists covered are often artists of major influence to that individual.
This certainly appeared to be the case in this situation. Crowe's rendition of Raining in Baltimore by the Counting Crows was one that served justice to the brilliance of the composition. Elements of this style were mirrored in her own creations in the way that Crowe seemed to draw in folk-rock/pop type ideas into her music. Contrastingly, and much to my pleasure, Crowe also managed to effectively mix in Pearl Jam's Jeremy with a song of her own, mirroring her intense, 'grunge' influences and tendencies. I felt this medley was an admirable feat in itself because grunge does not easily translate onto a piano, let alone to be pulled off by a female voice. And yet, she did it and most importantly, she did it well.
Crowe's performance was taken to another level when joined by her band-mates Dave Baird (on electric and acoustic bass) and Kevin Clevette (drums and percussion). Both were impressive musicians individually and complemented Allison's style well. The bass player moved along his huge double bass as though second nature and added an intense dimension to the compositions. Likewise, I found myself watching the drummer closely as he truly made his performance an art - at times his use of the brushes looked like he actually was painting. His musical signature was held in the way he added the "little things" - little personalized quirks almost. In any case, the three made a dynamic trio and convinced me that I needed to purchase a cd half way through the show.
Allison's debut cd contains six songs and sports an aesthetically pleasing cover which states the self-titled cd was created in 2001. Being from Nanaimo, B.C. the recording was done through Turtle Recording in White Rock. This cd unfortunately cannot be found in stores, but can be purchased through her website listed below. It was explained to me that such difficulties often occur because Indie labels tend to promote their artists as a take-all-or-none-type deal.
The Insider Recommends:
It is easier to pick up her cd when you see her live!