THIS LITTLE BIRD
Darling Be Home Soon
deadman's MOG blog (USA)
One of my favorite Lovin' Spoonful songs has
always been Darling Be Home Soon. A plaintive song, shot
through with a melancholia that just tugs at the heart.
Allison Crowe has the perfect
country/folk voice, as warm and burnished as Kentucky Bourbon, or
as honest and gritty as Mississippi mud. Like most of my favorite
singer/songwriters she is somewhat of a student/archivist, digging
through the Great American Songbook, reveling & marveling at the
incredible diversity within. She's surprising in her choice of
covers sometime, but she's almost always right
Compact Reviews: This Little Bird
Robert Moyes, Boulevard
Despite all the background noise currently
swamping the music scene, (mindless music celebrity-gossip,
over-hyped reunion tours of dinosaur rockers better left in deep
storage, etc.), there are always good recordings that can sometimes
be heard above the din. Here are five recent releases that are worth
tracking down at your favourite CD shop:
I have been enamoured of Nanaimo
singer-pianist Allison Crowe ever since she brought out her
Christmas record, (Tidings), several years ago. Her latest
CD, and also her best, is This Little Bird, which not only
showcase her exquisite, vibrato-rich voice, but also reveals a
maturing songwriting talent. From yearning ballads
(“Effortless”) to the up-tempo title song, this is modern
alt-pop that never cloys even after numerous listens. Crowe’s
originals are vivid, both musically and lyrically, and she also does
memorable covers. Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” has a stark
beauty while her version of “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love
You)” would give Aretha Franklin goose-bumps.
(The four CDs following in this review are
the newest releases from Jimmy LaFave, Eliza Gilkyson, Reid
Jamieson, and Richard Thompson.)
Joni Covers, Volume 93 - A Help Me Sandwich
Bob Muller, Joni Mitchell Discussion List (USA)
October 1, 2007
Allison Crowe - A Case Of You: Another fine
entry in the Joni Covers pantheon for Allison, who first wowed us
with her electrifying take on River. This time 'round she
picks another Blue selection and imbues it with her sensitive
singing and playing. From her 2006 release "This Little
Bird", all of which is as tasty as this track.
sparklechops - 07 Jun 2007 - The
THE LITTLE BIRD
Get a piece of paper and write Tori Amos in the top left hand
corner. Then write Patti Smith top right, followed by Stevie Nicks
and Leonard Cohen (stay with me) in the bottom two positions. Then
draw diagonal lines from their names to the centre, forming a big
Here is where you will find Allison Crowe’s music. The Canadian
singer/ songwriter’s trademark piano ballads contain heavy chords
and spacious grooves, which underpin her powerful yet delicate
vocals to great effect. There is an almost Celtic timbre to
Crowe’s voice, which is crammed full of enough emotion to make
anyone weep, but is carefully used to also make them smile.
Her band play impeccably throughout the album, with a sensibility
not dissimilar to an Antony and the Johnsons recording. Production
is water tight, thanks to Crowe’s own talents, and the songs tell
of love, loss, hope and despair.
I would avoid researching this one if you’ve recently
experienced a personal tragedy or have just finished watching
Schindler’s List as it may just push you over the edge. But if you
find yourself sitting at home with a glass of red and a good friend,
or you’re on a beach somewhere with a book and no worries…..jump
in, the water’s lovely.
Reviews - This Little Bird
Trevor Raggatt, Wears
The Trousers (UK)
3 A Case of
4 Alive and
5 There Is
9 Darling Be
11 I Never
Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
Only a year
or so has passed since Canadian songstress, Allison
Crowe released her live double album, Live at Wood Hall but she returns with a new studio set comprising
new songs and a selection of well chosen covers on This Little Bird. The
live discs clearly show Crowe to be an artist who
combines technical accomplishment with an ability to
imbue her performances with emotion which betrays a
beguiling mix of strength of spirit and delicate
bruised soul. With
this in mind the fact that this new disc is a
“band” album, rather than a solo effort, raised
some concerns in my mind.
Would we see this little bird struggling to
flutter above an overpowering rhythm section or
swamped by layers of unnecessary overproduction?
worries were unfounded as the new songs are less
presented in traditional “band” format and more
“solo singer/instrumentalist with tasteful
accompaniment”. Phew! The
fragility and intimacy of Crowe’s vocal is
retained, couched within the context of her tender
and expressive piano playing while, when she
stretches out into impassioned proclamation, the
voice and piano remain squarely front and centre of
Where additional instrumentation is added it
is as a complement to her remarkable vocal approach.
that voice is no less expressive than it is live.
Ranging from pure and angelic to sultry and
confessional, Crowe excels at all levels.
The cover of the Joni Mitchell classic, A
Case of You, demonstrates this perfectly.
The song covers Crowe’s full range – both
tonally and emotionally – from strident confidence
in the strength of love down to low groaning of self
doubt and despair.
Live favourite Never Loved a Man… remains a tour de force even in a studio
distinctive vibrato which so clearly marks out
Crowe’s vocal style is in evidence throughout but
studio disciplines leave it more tempered and
restrained than live where emotion and involvement
in the moment can take control of pure performance
For the most
part the backing musicians are tastefully employed
although there are a few moments scattered across
the disc where perhaps the odd timing or note choice
issue should have been addressed prior to final
this does not too seriously detract from the album.
In fact, on Skeletons
and Spirits the fact that the hand percussion
seems slightly out of kilter with the piano merely
emphasises the subtle oddness and foreboding
contained in the lyric.
Speaking of lyrics, the songs presented on Little
Bird continue to range across the type of areas
that so many songwriters cover – whether that’s
questions of self-worth or self-awareness, finding
and maintaining meaningful relationships or broader,
for want of a better word, “political” areas.
However, as with all of Crowe’s output
these otherwise standard topics are dealt with in a
peculiarly insightful, intelligent and emotionally
literate way. Once
again, on this album this talented young singer
belies herself – This
Little Bird is no Crowe, she is pure
Sophia Gurley, The
Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music (USA)
December 30, 2006
A strong album of nine original tracks and three covers— Joni
Mitchell's ubiquitous "A Case of You", John
Sebastian's "Darling Be Home Soon", Ronnie Shannon's
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)". I like that
the album opens with a lower-key song — Alison Crowe tends to
push the emotion in her songs hard, and while
"Effortless" is still an emotional song, it's nice to
hear her take it a little easier. There are some more upbeat songs
on here, too, which makes the album feel like it has a broader
range than her previous collections, and thus it feels more subtle
and nuanced. Love her gutsy "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I
Love You)", which shows she can still really belt it out. The
title (and last) track is a lovely, lively ending to a
well-rounded collection. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
by Allison Crowe
a Review by Amy
Producer of Collected
Well, what can I say about the fabulous Allison Crowe that I
haven't already said? I've reviewed her records for years and each
one is incredible.
This woman has a voice that will have you shaking your head in am
amazement. It seems to get better with each release as well.
Her songwriting is also very good. The songs are welcoming and
emotional. They are catchy with out being pedestrian.
If you're a fan of beautiful piano songs with strong (but not
aggressive) female vocals this is the record for you.
While you're at it, pick up her holiday record, Tidings. It's
probably my favorite holiday record of all time.
Posted on December 7, 2006
Kafé record review (Sweden)
- Full Moon 125
This Little Bird
Allison Crowe's previous records have all been good, but This
Little Bird is her most defining moment yet. The strong-voiced
singer has rarely penned better songs or chosen better covers.
Opener "Effortless" sees her and her piano dominate, a
slow-burning but powerful statement being made. The version of
fellow countrywoman Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" burn
with a steady flame. Crowe gets to the heart of the mystical,
intoxicating song. "You're In My Blood Like Holy Wine" has
rarely been a line better delivered. "Alive and Breathing"
has one of her best melodies and is a breezy but focused song. She
even gets away with covering Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a
Man (The Way That I Love You)" in a soulful way.
Crowe's focused and her art's never been better. This little bird
Copyright © 2006
Anna Maria Stjärnell
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Byline: Tom Harrison
There is a spare
backing to this record that allows Crowe's focused intensity to
shine through. It's just enough to create a few highlights that
complement her -- background vocals that add fullness, drumming that
is hardly there but propels the songs, stand-up bass that anchors
them -- but mostly this is, once again, Crowe at her piano. She
shows an eclecticism that also reinforces her own songs. The best
moments have atmosphere and her moodiness is truly affecting. B
Artists: Allison Crowe
Jim Kloss, Whole
Wheat Radio (USA), November 17, 2006
I have to tell you ... I find Allison's music and style
captivating. She reminds me of early Elton John for some reason. I'd
love to hear her with a large, full orchestra occasionally although
I also appreciate the simplicity of having just her and the piano.
(Maybe some of her songs I haven't heard have a full orchestra - I
hope so.) I love the new album - "This Little Bird" and
the Joni cover "A Case Of You". One of my favorite
renditions. Plaintive and haunting. I never tire of her music.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Allison Crowe: This Little Bird
Allison Crowe's new album, This Little Bird
finally been released so I'm consolidating my posts about
the album into this one. I've been living with and listening
to an advanced copy for almost two months now, waiting for
the official release to post my full review. Despite being
very familiar with the songs by now, I was still quite
excited to receive the finished product last week.
This Little Bird
includes nine original songs and a
trio of covers: "A Case of You" (originally by
Joni Mitchell), "Darling Be Home Soon" (originally
by John Sebastian) and "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I
Love You)" (originally by Ronnie Shannon, best-known as
covered by Aretha Franklin).
In addition to her credits of singer, songwriter, and
musician (guitar and piano), Allison engineered and produced
the album. The packaging of the album is simple and elegant,
apparently a throwback to the old school vinyl jackets. The
photography is initimate and candlelit, taken by Billie
Woods (currently on tour with Allison).
Though I obviously love music very much, there are only a
few singers that can really get to me with only the power of
their voice. Eva Cassidy, Jeff Buckley, Antony & The
Johnsons, and Damien Rice are a few examples of this, and
now Allison Crowe.
"Effortless" is one of those subtle songs that
quietly draws out whatever emotion you're feeling. Or at
least that's how it effects me every time I listen to it.
The lyrics stand out almost as much as Allison's voice. The
insecurity and self-doubt of the song are very easy to
relate to, and as usual Allison's vocals sound completely
I'm not certain if the opening lyric is the best part of
"Skeletons and Spirits", or if it's the cowbell.
Either way, it's a great song. The vocals go from the wry
and slightly bitter opening verses soaring into an almost
wail and then sliding back down into a purr.
I am probably the only person in the world that wasn't in
love with Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You". Which
is weird since I like most of Joni's other songs, but I just
never got the mass appeal of this one song of hers. And the
covers, oy. Like "Hallelujah
it's covered far too often by singers who really have no
business singing it. Until now. Yes, I realize that Allison
could sing the alphabet and I'd think it was a masterpiece,
but still. Her emotive singing style made this song finally
click with me, and now I'm like everyone else who loves it.
I love the way "Alive and Breathing" starts out so
quiet with Allison's solo vocals over a simple tune and
builds into a crescendo of voices and music. Sadly, the full
aural experience of the song doesn't seem to carry over well
into mp3. It sounds much better blaring from the stereo.
"Now" remains one of my favourites on the album. I
wish that every singer-songwriter that considers doing the
speak-sing thing would listen to this song. This is how to
do it right. On the verses, Allison speak-sings, but she
sings more than speaks so it flows smoothly with the music
and blends into the all sing chorus. It's structured just
right and sang beautifully. Of course, I know very little
about song structure or writing or singing really, but I
know what sounds good to my ears and this one surely does.
Especially at the end when Allison unleashes that voice.
"There Is" and "Darling Be Home Soon"
are pretty piano tunes. "Silence" is a haunting
waltz featuring throaty vocals that fade into a siren
chorus. And "Circular Reasoning" is probably
spectacular on stage with its guitar, bells, whistles, and
pure, lovely vocals.
On "Phoenix" and especially on her cover of
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)",
Allison gives a soulful, soaring vocal performance worthy of
the great female jazz and blues vocalists of decades past.
Need more cowbell? "This Little Bird" has it. The
title song is an upbeat finale for an album that I love from
beginning to end.
I can honestly and without hesitation say that This
is my favourite album of 2006. I haven't
wanted to immerse myself in an album so intensely since I
first heard Antony & The Johnsons. I think if the music
blogiverse has any taste at all, Allison Crowe will be the
new artist to be pimped out everywhere.
Allison and her manager have generously allowed me to share
four songs from the album here:
Crowe - I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
Crowe - Effortless
Crowe - Now
Crowe - Skeletons and Spirits
Allison Crowe Official
Allison will be performing in the U.K. and Ireland as part
October 20 - London, Lauderdale House
October 21 - London, Halo
October 24 - Brighton, Sussex Arts Club
October 26 - Glasgow, Ramshorn Theatre
October 29 - Liverpool, Heart and Soul
November 1 - Dublin, Bewley's Café Theatre
November 3 - Aberdeen, Cowdray Hall
November 4 - Dundee, Chaplaincy Centre
Head over to The
Face of Today
for a review of Allison's October 21st
performance in London.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, right click on the mp3s to
download them to your computer. Please do not post the
direct link to my mp3 files to any other site or blog.
Instead link to Muruch
or the particular post they are featured in.
just keeps getting better!
Reviewer: Bob Muller in SC (JoniMitchell.com's
Grand Poobah of Covers)
Allison really comes into her own on this CD - her wonderful
songs, supported by her emotive vocals, strong and confident,
navigates them with feeling and strength. I mean, it takes a lot
of self-confidence to tackle Aretha's version of "I Never
Loved a Man..." but Allison does and nails it just as good as
the Queen of Soul herself. Her piano playing is equally exquisite.
Treat yourself to one of the mightiest talents on the
singer-songwriter scene today.
November 1, 2006