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As the Crowe flies
Karla Hayward, The Telegram (Canada)
Friday, March 10, 2006

Allison Crowe welcomes comparisons, but she says her style is really all her own

With her soaring, swooping vibrato, Allison Crowe is being lauded as Canada's next Sarah McLachlan, a more powerful Tori Amos, a more listenable Ani diFranco. And she doesn't mind the comparisons.

"I've been asked if it bothers me to be compared to other people before, and it really doesn't at all.

I think it's really cool, actually; it's neat and flattering. But I don't want to put a label on myself or my music by saying I'm like one person in particular; I don't want to pigeonhole myself," she says.

Growing up, Crowe was surrounded by music. Her immediate and extended family, friends and community were alive with rock, jazz and classical music, influences as broad as Crowe's own sound today.

After years of singing and playing in school and at home, she began playing for live audiences at age 15, taking to the piano in ever-growing crowds in coffeehouses and bars in her home on Vancouver Island.

"I've been singing and writing for a long time, but initially I did both separately - wrote poetry, and sang songs. Then I got in to musical theatre, and it all really started to come together for me," says Crowe.

Now just 24, Crowe has performed in hundreds of clubs, cabarets and concert halls, on radio and television, and stages local and international. She has already earned a reputation as a fearless and singular talent.

Nothing, it seems, is outside her realm of performance, from Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah to the Counting Crows' Raining in Baltimore, to her own carefully penned numbers. Crowe is a multi-talented and diverse musician.

And now, this ingenue has moved from the extreme west of our country to the extreme east, settling in Corner Brook.

"When I was touring in Newfoundland last year, I acquired a boyfriend here in Corner Brook. I also realized what an incredible amount of music there was in here, how almost everyone is involved in some way. I thought it would be fun to move out here for a while, experience it more closely," she says.

Asked whether she'll make the leap from west to east a permanent one, Crowe remains hesitant - for now.

"I'm not sure yet if I'll stay here in Newfoundland. I really love it here, I'm comfortable here, it feels the same as home in many ways. But I've been touring so much, I'm not even sure where my home is anymore."

Not content with merely singing, writing and playing her own music, Crowe also wanted to own the label it was released on. In 2003, she launched Rubenesque Records Ltd. and debuted Lisa's Song + 6 Songs.

Now in Newfoundland, Crowe has begun sessions for her next album, This Little Bird. The album is to contain nine or 10 songs of her own, alongside covers of numbers by Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, and The Lovin' Spoonful.

During the initial recording stage, Crowe has been joined by two well-known Newfoundland musicians, multi-instrumentalists and recording pros - Mike and Louis McDonald - at Gitano's restaurant, her impromptu studio.

"I'm recording at Gitano's; they've graciously allowed me the use of their space, and their piano. Right now, I can't say when we'll be finished. You never know how it's going to go until you really get into it. It could be a month or so, but I think I'll be ready to go back to touring in the spring," says Crowe.

Crowe intends for this next album to have a bigger, fuller, sound that some of her previous work. She's inviting several guest musicians to play a number of instruments in addition to her own voice and piano.

"I think this new album will have more of a band sound, it'll definitely be much more multi-layered. The wealth of talent her is influencing that, and I think it will continue to, as I live and work her in Newfoundland. But for me, how it happens - the music, the sound - evolves as you go along," says Crowe.

Allison Crowe's music is available online at www.allisoncrowe.com

Details of her touring plans will be announced soon.

Allison Crowe has moved to Corner Brook, where she's recording new material.  Photo: Ben Strothmann