Collette Savard is a multi-instrumentalist whose songs effortlessly blend traditional folk-music instrumentation with a modern pop sensibility. She is a prolific and talented songwriter whose work has been featured in animation and sketch comedy productions, and was recently heard in the documentary “We’re Not Broke” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January. Her lyrics are equal parts wry observation and emotional honesty. The intricate and interweaving musical arrangements of her and her partner (multi-instrumentalist/producer John Zytaruk who has worked with Buck 65 and Jenn Grant among others) create a musical world which draws in everyone from the discerning folk-music enthusiast to the hippest indie-pop devotee. She now prepares to release her much-anticipated third independent CD “Best Dress” on April 21st 2012 at the Tranzac Club in Toronto. This collection of all-original material was expertly recorded in a small Toronto church (St. Matthias) and reflects the warmth and intimacy of the setting. Her albums have featured many of Canada's top players, such as Juno award winners Guido Basso and Richard Underhill, and this release includes accompaniment by acclaimed artist/composer Bob Wiseman (Blue Rodeo.) The ingenuity and sophistication of her songs (which she creates without the benefit/restrictions of any formal training) are reason enough to see her perform, but add to this her witty and captivating stage presence, and the dynamic interplay between her and John, and you will wonder where she and her music have been all your life.
Those who have seen a performance know that Collette Savard, like other artists such as Gillian Welch, is really a two-piece band featuring the combined talents of singer-songwriter Collette Savard and multi-instrumentalist John Zytaruk. Partners in life and music, their work together has evolved into a unique musical presence. Collette's powerful voice and highly melodic songs are at the core of their sound. She is equally at home writing and performing on dulcimer, ukulele, clawhammer banjo and guitar while John, a professional side-man and producer backs her up on dobro, lap-steel, mandolin, banjo and guitar, as well as background vocals. Together they sound like a full band on stage, despite being only two in number. The intricate arrangements and constantly shifting sonic textures revolve around Collette's original material but also include choice covers of everything from Dock Boggs and George Gershwin to Robert Johnson, Warren Zevon and even the Jackson Five rendered on dulcimer and guitar. The other crucial component of their live shows, which can only really be experienced in concert, is Collette's bold humour and entertaining stage presence and the honesty she brings to her performances. (Collette and John both believe that performing is very much about entertaining the audience and not just playing a bunch of songs one after the other!)
Collette and John are both natives of North Bay, Ontario. Growing up Collette was influenced by her traditional Franco-Ontarian family and the folk and bluegrass music they played. Although she started writing her own songs in her early teens she has never had formal musical training: she was gifted with the ability to just pick up an instrument, and be able to make up her own chords, melodies and songs. (John on the other hand did study classical guitar formally, although he is self-taught on his other instruments with the exception of banjo, which he studied with clawhammer master Chris Coole.) Teaming up together, they quickly realized that their talents matched each other perfectly. This resulted in Collette's critically-acclaimed debut CD 2005's "Most-Improved Cheerleader" produced by John and which featured a guest appearance by Canadian jazz legend, Juno award winning flugehorn player Guido Basso who raved: "I listened and I listened and I fell in love. Collette's voice is my favorite voice." Fellow North Bay-ite cartoonist Lynn Johnston (For Better Or For Worse) became an avid fan and describes Collette's music as "truly worth listening to. A unique, bluesy folk sound with soul-searching lyrics."
A second CD "Zen Boyfriend" was released in 2008. Featuring a more stripped down approach that reflected Collette's live sound it once again included a guest appearance by a Juno winning Canadian jazz legend-this time saxophonist Richard Underhill (Shuffle Demons, Blue Rodeo.) Robert Reid of the Kitchener Record wrote: "she's a captivating songwriter who paints with a broad acoustic palette, there's a little bit of Sarah Harmer in Savard, but comparisons are superfluous. She and Zytaruk make their own, sweet music together."