Monday, March 22, 2010

the upward Spiral

...or further up the Spiral, as it were.

(can I tag Trent Reznor in this note?!)
(turns out - no)

Finally, my 7th album is complete. Wait a minute - did i say SEVENTH?! WTF?! The reality of time and age starts to set in when I count albums. I feel old lately. (blame the event of last year's 10 year high-school reunion - which I was unable to attend)

Let's just say "new" album - ahhh. That's better.

So, my NEW album, Spiral, is finally out (digitally - the hard copy of same is not to be completed til the end of this week) and I am SO freaking excited about this one.

All of those little ideas I've always had, the little sonic bits and pieces that I've wanted, the arrangements and orchestrations, the instruments, were brought to life by some of my best friends. Have I ever rapped away to you the virtues of being independent? Well if I haven't, I'm sure I will. One of the greatest parts of doing whatever I want (besides THAT fact in and of itself) is that I get to work with people that I actually LIKE.- nay, LOVE.

I was certain at the outset of this that the next album had to be different - I just wasn't sure how. I wanted big production sound but as always have wee production budget (meaning everything ends up being mostly homemade - current technology lends itself to this beautifully)

I had the wonderfully talented musicians, and friends, on my side. Billie Woods, Dave Baird, and Laurent Boucher. Check. We played together, even went on tour. Remember that whole thing with the UK. welll, the stuff after that was awesome. Check.

What's this? A cellist? Brendan Millbank. Boo ya. Just happens to be my neighbour in Nanaimo. Done.

Moving along...

Next question - how to capture?

I've been engineering my own albums for a while now, learning as I've been going along - so I was sure I'd be able to do a good deal of it - though the perfection of, and gear for, some certain sonic elements still elude me. Enter the mix between myself and Larry Anschell - Turtle Studios super dude. (has done mobile recording for Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains - as well as countless successful studio recordings - his studio has an arcade!!!! SRSLY)

The combination of things was decided. I did a lot at home, some already existed, I travelled to some homes, some was live, some was Larry - perfect for all the little bits we needed. You know, Adrian himself caught pieces of Dave's background vocals and all of Brendan's cello.

And what about all those other strings I want to hear in my brains? How the…?

After hitting wall after wall of limitations, both financially and idea-wise, finally, a breakthrough in the form of Kayla Schmah - the ridiculously talented string arranger and producer who I have known for, oh... let's see... at LEAST 10 years. 11? 12? Do i really want to go there? Wasn't I feeling old already? Let's just say we used to sing Indigo Girls and Vonda Shepard songs together on Salt Spring Island at Summer Stock in some year that was still the 90's.

I was lucky enough to have Kayla offer to shape the album in to something beautiful and different altogether. She's sensitive to all the sounds, and knew just what to do - things I never would have even been able to imagine - landscapes of sound I didn't even know existed other than in Lord of the Rings (sorry for the uber-nerdy comparison, it's just that I REALLY REALLY love Lord of the Rings) She made it so I didn't have to listen to tiny little bits of things and adjust their relative volumes. She's also a new mom. I love her endlessly.

Finally, it was coming together.

What about art? Something different... something new... something not my face... (which is always beautifully photographed and made to look really pretty by Billie Woods - she's f**king awesome) (pardonnez-moi...)

Enter Tara Thelen - the painter of the paintings used for this album's artwork. Seriously? I can use these? Are you kidding? I am so freaking lucky it's ridiculous. lol After a lovely telephone conversation with Tara and a bit of time deciding on which of her many amazing paintings to use for this album, we decided on "Look at Me" and "I Found You". Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

Ok so what about layout?

Alix Whitmire - web-designer and cover art designer for a great number of my albums and all around amazing lady who is also an incredibly talented knitter and lover of fibres... She just always knows what looks awesome, including Billy Argel's font, Ginga. Seriously. I love the font. And Alix knows just what to do with it- I can't wait to see it in hardcopy, what with the metallic foils and things with the mixes of colours... YAYYYYY!!!!

I can't forget, too, Condor and John MacMillan - who recorded tracks live way back in the day that have found themselves years in the future on this particular piece - and soundboard operators the world over.

Add in everybody - add in everything - and finally, the culmination, aurally, of what I've imagined and wanted since I used to listen to Counting Crows' August and Everything After until I wore out copies and copies of it from when I was a pre-teen and well after...

I've got it. It's done. I'm pumped. I hope you like it. Thank you to everyone who helped me do this - and to Adrian du Plessis for listening carefully again and again more times than I ever could before my brain would bleed.

Thank you.

Allison :)

next up, the euro-tour in April... stay tuned...

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"...the music of what happens" ~ Finn mac Cumaill

Spiral is now on Allison's music pages @

<a href="">Dearly by Allison Crowe</a>

+ on CD Baby and iTunes and these sounds will soon be everywhere ( :

Here's a special video album of Spiral:

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Spiral" - song/track listing

Spiral - song/track listing:

Dearly (Allison Crowe) 4:09
Double-Edged Swords (Allison Crowe) 2:32
Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (Leonard Cohen, Ron Cornelius) 4:29
Wake Up (live) (Allison Crowe) 5:35
Oceans (Allison Crowe) 3:14
I Don't Know (Allison Crowe) 4:49
Spiral (Allison Crowe) 3:45
Throw Your Arms Around Me
(John Archer, Geoffrey Crosby, Douglas Falconer, John Howard,
Robert Miles, Mark Seymour, Michael Waters ~ Mushroom Music) * 4:24
Why (Annie Lennox) * 4:39
Going Home Tonight (Allison Crowe) 4:42
No Matter the Battle (Allison Crowe) 4:10

+ reprise/encore

* Throw Your Arms Around Me (v2) 4:24
* Why (v2) 4:42

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Charmed St. Patrick's Day release for "Spiral

Allison Crowe's newest album, Spiral, is released this March 17, St. Patrick's Day, as digital downloads and a series of 14 videos posted on Allison’s site, Facebook, and YouTube. The physical album/CD is scheduled to start shipping the same day. Spiral comprises 11 songs plus a two song reprise/encore.

Follow the yellow-brick road of song, cinematic in scope, visceral in nature, thinking, feeling, courageous and fun - rock, pop, folk, soul, roots.

Allison Crowe’s music is that feast where, says the poet Rimbaud, “all hearts open and all wines flow.”

Over a decade of reviews, the word most often used to describe the voice of Allison Crowe is “gorgeous”. The word that testifies more than any other to her musical performance is “amazing”. This month, the much-loved and acclaimed singer-songwriter releases “Spiral”, her seventh album/CD. It is both of these things. And plenty more.

U.S.-based entertainment blog ‘Muruch’ earlier this year named it as an album most highly anticipated, and, now, UK music blog ‘We Write Lists’ includes "Spiral" as one of "The Twelve Most Exciting Albums of 2010", remarking: "Crowe's speciality is startlingly beautiful piano-based songs that sort of make you wonder why you bother with anything else."

(Joining Crowe on the list are new recordings from: Fleet Foxes, Fyfe Dangerfield, Girls Aloud, Goldfrapp, Gorillaz, Joanna Newsom, Marina and the Diamonds, Massive Attack, MGMT, Music Go Music and She and Him.)

For Allison Crowe, a peerless live performer, and a singer-songwriter of the thrilling calibre known in the 1960s, Spiral is the seventh release from her label, Rubenesque Records, in as many years. Musical production wrapped on Valentine's Day.

Spiral contains eight of Crowe’s original songs, ranging from the tender and playful country/roots of “Dearly”, to the upbeat pop of “Double-Edged Swords”, ’cross the loving “Oceans”, and darker terrain of “I Don’t Know” and the hard rocking title track. Raw, natural, emotion is embraced passionately with elegiac beauty and melody in these, and such joy-filled tunes as “Going Home Tonight” and “No Matter the Battle”. With the live track, “Wake Up”, Crowe, again, renders the personal universal, and the global, human.

Uniquely known not just as one of the most exciting songwriters of a new generation, Crowe is also one of our finest interpreters of popular song. Spiral’s mix of light and shadow includes a trio of fresh covers – revisiting music of Annie Lennox (“Why”), Leonard Cohen (“Chelsea Hotel No. 2”), and Hunters and Collectors’ Antipodean anthem, “Throw Your Arms Around Me”.

On this new song collection, the bi-coastal Canadian, (she calls Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Nanaimo, British Columbia, home), is joined by ideally-skilled and sympathetic west-coast musicians Billie Rocha-Woods (acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Dave Baird (bass, backing vocals), Laurent Boucher (percussion), Brendan Millbank (cello) and Larry Anschell (electric guitar, and, also, Engineer/Producer at Turtle Studios in White Rock, B.C.)

Kayla Schmah, Los Angeles-based, Canadian-born, composer and film scorer, orchestrates and produces the album with, yes, "gorgeous" musical textures, and cinematic ideas artfully brought to life. Concert capturings by Engineers B.R.N. (aka Condor) and John MacMillan complete this diverse mix of music made in Corner Brook, Nanaimo, as well as Chilliwack, White Rock, Denman Island and Salt Spring Island, Canada, Vienna, Austria, and Hollywood, USA.

The visual art of Spiral matches its aural beauty - with cover paintings by Netherlands-based Tara Thelen, photographs by Canada's Billie Rocha-Woods, and California's Dan Goldwasser, fontage from Brazil’s Billy Argel and graphic design by Florida's Alix Whitmire.

Allison Crowe's trans-national and international concert dates for 2010 follow the release of Spiral.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover Art - Spiral

Here's the "Spiral" album cover as it almost will look in print - there's some gold and silver foil stamping that will happen, which only exists in the physical form (not in a file), and, so, we'll see that when it's created next week!

The original painting is by artist Tara Thelen. The album art design is by Alix Whitmire. Ginga font is a creation of Billy Argel.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Do Look Back

Who Will Save Your Soul (Jewel)

As the release of “Spiral”, a new album from Allison Crowe, approaches, it’s fun to revisit where things began, with a pair of songs from among the earliest popular (i.e. not jazz or classical) songs and inspirations in Crowe’s repertoire.

Here’s Allison Crowe covering, live, a song that was a hit when she was 15 – "Who Will Save Your Soul”.

WWSYS is the lead off track on “Pieces of You”, the debut album of Utah-born, Alaska-raised, singer-songwriter Jewel (Kilcher). The POY album, (for which Jewel wrote songs alone, and together with wild-and-crazy Haligonian-at-birth Steve Poltz), has sold over 13 million copies worldwide. It’s an organic blend of songs recorded, (in the mid-’90s), live at the Innerchange coffeehouse in San Diego, and at Neil Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch studio in Woodside, California, sensitively produced by Ben Keith.

Jewel, via her “J-team”, has been kind to Allison Crowe, and especially supportive when Allison was first venturing out from her Canadian island to greet a larger world with her music.

Fade Away

Allison Crowe’s first public performance, at age 5 or 6, was singing the jazz-era hit “Ja-Da Ja-Da (Jing Jing Jing)”.

For the next decade, Crowe’s musical training hewed to jazz and classical, with Beethoven being a natural favourite. By her teenage years, this foundation enabled creative flight, further fuelled by such diverse influences as “The Little Mermaid”, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Chet Baker joining a new generation of bands, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Counting Crows, among them, and women in the spotlight – from Ani DiFranco, and Tori Amos, to Joan Osborne, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and plenty more inspirations.

Fade Away”, penned when she was 15, is the first song Allison Crowe wrote as a singer-songwriter.

On this recording, she’s accompanied by Larry Anschell, on electric guitar, Dave Baird on bass, and Kevin Clevette on drums. Recorded and produced by Anschell (Bif Naked, Sarah McLachlan, Pearl Jam), at his Turtle Recording studios in White Rock, B.C., Canada.

The photos of Allison accompanying these music vids are by the fabulous Billie Rocha-Woods

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Friday, March 05, 2010

In Love in Vain

Monday, March 01, 2010

Tonight Will Be Fine

The ever-delightful Leonard Cohen-intensive blog 1 Heck of a Guy today notes its "spotlight is, deservedly, on the impossibly talented Allison Crowe performing 'Tonight Will Be Fine' ", explaining:
“ 'Spiral,' the latest album from Allison Crowe, the Canadian singer-songwriter and icon in training who has been featured here on several occasions,1 is due for release March 17, 2010.2 In anticipation of this event, several of her previously released songs are being made available in video format on YouTube and other venues."
You can read the full post at 1 Heck of a Guy - and here's the video which the mysterious DrHGuy has created: 

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