Friday, October 19, 2007

Half a million strong: Allison Crowe's music gets back to where we once belonged

Allison Crowe's most recent Scottish expedition has been a smashing success. Three performances = three standing ovations. Highlights, among many, of the visit include performing songs of John Lennon for members of John’s family, meeting and dining with the Queen’s Master of Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and his partner Colin Parkinson, and, simply, sharing the joy and wonder of music and nature with people from Glasgow and Edinburgh to the Highlands. (Not to forget the haggis stand outside the Village Hall in Durness - and Sergeant Pepper’s Soup Kitchen.)

With more concerts already booked, from May to September 2008, the mutual love and respect between friends and fans in this most hospitable land is fast making Scotland a bonnie “home from home” for Crowe, one of the world’s most exciting, and down-to-earth, musicians. Accepting invitations to the Orkneys and Liverpool, (named the European Capital of Culture for ’08), is also in score for next year.

Allison Crowe’s welcomed back to North America by news that Bob Muller, curator of song covers at JoniMitchell.com, includes her recording of “A Case of You” in the latest “Joni Covers” volume - with these words: “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.”

The world of video, along with audio, is embracing with conviction. YouTube viewership for Crowe’s take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is over half-a-million strong (leading still more to her freshly definitive ‘Tidings’ album version of the song). Promising to become another, future, reel highlight, makers of what can genuinely be called one of the most highly anticipated Hollywood movie projects in twenty+ years, have requested use of two of Allison’s recordings for this major motion picture. (More word on film production to follow, naturally.)

If we got ourselves back to the garden, when rock music was most vital, Allison Crowe would blow audiences away at the Fillmore, at Monterey, at Woodstock. Today, she plays for people on the stages of YouTube, Jamendo, Last.fm (and other online forums where audiences gather to enjoy her remarkable, and peerless, mix of originals and interpretations). And, of course, the live experience comes together - from the just-wrapped John Lennon Northern Lights Festival to her upcoming Tidings concert series (dates and locations tba) - wherever she travels.

In a age of commercial trends and calculated retro acts, Allison Crowe delivers something else entirely as a singer-songwriter - a visceral expression of freedom. We haven't had that spirit here, well, since 1969.

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