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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Allison Crowe: Little Light

 

Allison Crowe's new album Little Light will be released on May 2nd. I posted a song from the new album last week and just received my advance of the CD. Though in some ways the new album plays like a sequel to This Little Bird, the inclusion of live recordings and the general organic style are closer to her awesome Live At Wood Hall collection. However, the earnest howls of the past often take a backseat in this song cycle to a more somber maturity in the vein of Joni Mitchell. If this change in style is a portent of things to come, I'll miss hearing Allison's unearthly keens rip their way out of her throat... though I understand that's the price that sometimes must be paid for a songwriter's talent to grow.


 
Little Light opens with "Northern Lights", a gentle acoustic ballad that I posted last July from Allison's performance at the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness, Scotland. Though I must say I love when Allison belts out the big notes, there's a quiet beauty about the tune that better serves the emotion of the lyrics. And Crowe does let out one wail toward the end of the song.

"Angels" and the cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" were recorded live in Canada in 2006. She also tackles Matthew Good's "Running for Home" and Phil Ochs' "When I'm Gone", replacing the dry wistfulness of the better known Ani Difranco rendition with her signature bleeding heart interpretation. I believe that Allison Crowe is the only living person - with the possible exception of Glen Hansard - that can pour their whole being into any cover and make it sound like an entirely new song.

The fervent, mesmeric, piano hammering extended version of "Disease" - originally featured on Live At Wood Hall - is a live recording from last year. "Happy People" begins with some wry humor, but eventually the song becomes possessed as Allison's heartfelt cries mix with a backing choir of voices. As I told her manager when I first heard "Hold Back", I would chew my arm off to sing like Allison. Though I guess that would make it difficult to shred a piano like she does, which seems to be half the fun.

Allison Crowe - Northern Lights (mp3)
Allison Crowe - Disease (mp3)
Allison Crowe - Hold Back (mp3)

Allison Crowe Official Site

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