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Allison Crowe shares her Secrets
Billie Woods photo

By John Kimantas
Nanaimo News Bulletin

The morning after Fantasia Barrino was named American Idol, Nanaimo singer and songwriter Allison Crowe had to admit she had watched the show.

"It's good entertainment," she said. "But it's totally different from what I'm doing."

Had details meshed with New York music producer Jack Ponti, Crowe might right now be celebrating being in the limelight herself. But older and wiser from a failed negotiation bid in New York last year, Crowe has a clear vision for the future - and it's not going to take a major record label deal to make or break her dreams.

Fresh from releasing her first full-length CD, Secrets, Crowe is certainly shopping for a contract, but she's not about to disappear like she did for nine months while negotiating for Ponti.

Her manager, Adrian du Plessis, isn't about to go through that again - including losing the time performing, recording, and touring.

"We're going to keep doing what we're doing," he said. "We're not stopping for anybody."

Secrets reflects the future of the independent music industry. Originally planned as working tapes for a studio recording, Crowe used a computer equipped with an audio program and two mikes: one for her voice and one for her piano.

The results were as good as what they had hoped from the studio.

"It sounds great. I thought wow, this was from my living room. I can do this anytime I feel inspired - with no clock."

It also allowed her to experiment. For instance, her percussion comes from thumping things around the house. When she didn't like the result, she deleted it.

"It's not, 'oh my god, that thumping just cost me $700.'"

Secrets is a collection of ballads and songs.

"It's very much about the music - not all the bells and whistles," she said.

It's the first of two releases planned by Crowe. The other, Alive and Breathing, a more rocking affair, will be released later this year.

Guest artists on the CD include Del Crowe on guitar, Jo Lundstrom on accordion, Eric Reiswig on Uilleann pipes and Rainer Willeke on harmonica.

Here's Crowe's thoughts on each song on the album:

How Long - Crowe wrote this song as one of a slew about her experience in New York. "It's basically just the frustration of waiting for something to happen," she said.

Raining in Baltimore - This is cover of a Counting Crows tune. She "acquired the CD August and Everything from her brother when she was about 12. "I listened to it and fell in love with it."
Raining in Baltimore was the first song she performed in public at a coffee shop in Qualicum. And no, Crowe has not yet been to Baltimore.

Philosophy - One of her older songs, Philosophy was originally written to be played quite slow. Over time it evolved to be one of her band's high energy rock songs. "I thought it should go back to the song it originally was."

Midnight - Crowe adds some rare guitar to this track. "I played it like a bass because I'm used to playing the bass more than the guitar."

Immersed - "It's about waking up and realizing the situation and being yourself."

Montreal - "This one is very much a love song I wrote for my boyfriend."
In case you were wondering, her boyfriend, Steve, plays in her band. And on their next visit, they plan to spend more time in Montreal.

Sea of a Million Faces - Another New York song about the shock of the big city. "It's about so much more but that was the inspiration."

What About You - "The general message of the song is just seeing people give up so much of themselves to make another person happy. That frustrates me."

Joan of Arc - Following on her cover of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen for her Christmas CD, Crowe was shopping for another Cohen song to cover on the Internet. "I always found Joan of Arc to be an interesting person. I clicked that one and read the lyrics and thought wow. I had to hear it. I sat down and recorded it the first time I played it."

Whether I'm Wrong - Another song out of her New York experience where people were against the war in Iraq but felt unable to voice a dissenting opinion.

The CD Secrets is available at Fascinating Rhythm and Lobelia's Lair.