Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Best of the decade" and beyond

Entertainment website Muruch announces its top 25 albums of the decade – on a list that ranges from The Dresden Dolls to Muse, the eclectic blog places Allison Crowe’s “Live at Wood Hall” in the number 8 position, commenting:

“Oh that voice! Still gives me chills. I’ve posted about Allison Crowe so many times over the years that I consider her Muruch’s musical mascot. As I said in my 2007 review“there’s really no way to convey through mere words how much the music on Allison Crowe’s Live At Wood Hall moves me”. Forget Susan Boyle, Allison sang the definitive cover of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’.”

It’s been a year in which Crowe elevated her artistry beyond levels consistently seen in rock music for decades. A decade of international touring and online presence combined with inventive and inspired writing and recording and peerless live shows has translated into making the bi-coastal Canadian one of the world’s most popular, successful, and truly, independent musicians.

Allison Crowe climbs every rung with rare artistry - Photo by Billie Woods

Crowe’s achievement could only be reached free of the status quo, side-stepping the mainstreaming rackets of, both, corporate record labels and institutionalized funding agencies. It’s a revolution, not just in her home country, but, on a global scale.

A review from the latest concert on her “Tidings” tour, which wraps this weekend in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, exemplifies peoples’ response to Allison Crowe’s singular nature as one of the most moving singer-songwriters and interpreters of any generation.

Eric McLean, band leader of the Nanaimo Blues All Stars, (and President of the Old City Quarter Association), wrote of Crowe’s December ’09 concert in that city: “I have seen and met, hordes of great performers over the years, from Clapton, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, Sara, Little Feat, to Grappelli, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, etc, etc, etc, and I honestly believe that (Allison Crowe is) in the same league.” McLean sums up the feeling of many, saying: “I really felt that I was in the presence of something great.”

Allison Crowe’s seventh CD, “Spiral”, is due to be released in early 2010.

* NB A friend in Scotland, where folks, naturally, take great pride in Susan Boyle, wrote to express concern that it's "an unnecessary swipe being taken at a Scottish personality" by the music blog. I am certain, and have confirmed directly, the writer means no harm to Susan Boyle or Scotland!

In the context of knowing the reviewer is an huge fan of "Les Mis", they're not saying to forget Susan in entirety. Their simple, and passionate, view is that with respect to the song "I Dreamed a Dream", Allison best captures its mood. Their turn of phrase is not meant to extend beyond that artistic point.

From here, at least, it seems media marketing maven Simon Cowell et al have been rather callous in their exploitation of Susan Boyle, and there's been disregard for her health and well-being.

That's a separate issue, I know. Still, if you care for artists as people, health matters more than the fame or money. It's not evident how much an operator like Mr. Cowell cares about the human toll.

Knowing the business side of the record industry, one can only hope that the singer from West Lothian comes through it all better than many who are fodder for the machine.

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