"Music for the season... and all time"
NB This is the full-length, 12 song, "Tidings" album. (It is available in CD and digital format. There is a digital-only, six-song, release titled "Tidings: 6 Songs for the Season" available as well. Check that digital EP listing for song titles.)
"Tidings" brings together traditional carols, and not-so-traditional songs, all interpreted, even redefined, through the vocal and piano artistry of Allison Crowe. It's a much-loved collection tagged "the Yule-tide find of the year" by one music critic. "Her voice celebrates the music with a bluesy rock-gospel intensity; her controlled vibrato, silken rasp, and powerful projection rivet your attention. This is no casual background music... be prepared to be amazed," says another reviewer. Tidings is popular year-round - not just during the Christmas season when it's a natural. The album's songs are recorded, live-off-the-floor, on Winter's eve in Canada by Engineer & Producer Larry Anschell, (Pearl Jam, Sarah McLachlan, k-os), who captures the magic at his Turtle Recording studio by the shore in White Rock, British Columbia.
Tidings' track-listing: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Traditional); River (Joni Mitchell); Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen); Silent Night (Traditional); In the Bleak Midwinter (Traditional); What Child Is This - Greensleeves (Traditional); Let It Be (The Beatles); The First Noel (Traditional); In My Life (The Beatles); O Holy Night (Traditional); Shine a Light (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards); Angel (Sarah McLachlan).
Peace on Earth ~ goodwill toward all.
Tags: Allison Crowe, singer songwriter, rock, folk, jazz, pop, soul, acoustic, independent, alternative, contemporary, live, piano, guitar, lyrical, vocal, seasonal, holiday, Christmas, Beethoven, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Counting Crows, Pearl Jam, Leonard Cohen, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Chet Baker, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, The Beatles, John Lennon, Elton John, Bob Marley, Edith Piaf, Nina Simone, Fiona Apple
Here’s what reviewers say about Allison Crowe’s “Tidings”:
Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen
December 15, 2007
"Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. This song has somehow become Crowe's signature, if a singer who defies description as stubbornly as she does has a signature... Cohen's original version is a spoken poem, all of the meaning contained in the words. Crowe's version is a living thing, a meditation and a celebration and a benediction."
Hallelujah! YouTube hits keep indie musicians free
Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist (Canada)
September 22, 2007
Excerpt from feature:
"It's not hard to see why Crowe's Hallelujah -- recorded in a single take -- is popular. It's one of Leonard Cohen's most affecting songs, and the 26-year-old, accompanying herself on piano, makes it her own with raw honesty and formidable vocal power. It's simultaneously heart-breaking and redemptive, and it has captured the imaginations of people around the world. 'The song itself is just so emotionally resonant,' Crowe said modestly this week."
River: Allison Crowe
Bob Muller, Joni Mitchell Discussion List (USA)
"One of my favorites; there is a pinch of Shawn (Colvin) in Allison's voice, except imo Allison has more punch and emotional bite in her vocals. She makes singing this song seem easy, and anyone who's tried it will tell you it's not."
Crowe for Christmas
Published: December 15 2006
by Martin Levin, Women's Post (Canada)
It is customary among some at this time of year, to begin to issue seasonal greeting by reference to some song. Thus, to readers, I say, have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, or, to paraphrase ecumenically, a Cheery Chanukah or a Kolossal Kwanza.
To help you on your way, there is the usual shower of Christmas albums. You might try CDs by Canadian icons Sarah McLachlan (Wintersong) and the Barra MacNeils (The Christmas Album II), or journey to the land of the green Christmas (mostly) for James Taylor's At Christmas, while the most unlikely source of peace and love is shock-rock heavy metallers Twisted Sister, with A Twisted Christmas. Somehow, I can't quite associate chestnuts roasting on an open fire or sleigh bells jing-a-lingling with Dee Snider and crew...
But for me, the real revelation is an CD from last year that I've only just listened to. I refer to that other singer-pianist from Nanaimo, B.C., Allison Crowe. And if you haven't heard of her or, better yet, heard her, you really should.
Her album is called Tidings (Rubenesque Records) and they are glad indeed. Beginning with a brief but stirring rendition of the carol It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Crowe launches into a 12-track CD that contains not a single turkey, nor any stuffing. There are other carols (Silent Night, The First Noel), but Crowe also pays tribute to the gods of rock and roll, with charming readings of the Beatles' Let it Be and In My Life, Joni Mitchell's River and the Rolling Stones' Shine a Light, fittingly and thematically concluding with Angel.
Crowe's warm, natural, passionate — and need I add lovely? — voice are perhaps shown to best effect on another glorious standard, Leonard Cohen's magnificent and deeply spiritual quest for faith, Hallelujah. It's been sung brilliantly before by the likes of Rufus Wainright and k.d. lang, but Crowe easily holds her own in that august company. I expect much more to be heard from her.
CD Reviews/Playlist: Dr. Christmas' Radio Show
Dr. Gerry Grzyb, WRST-FM (USA)
Friday, December 24, 2004
** RECORDING OF EXCEPTIONAL MERIT (the show's highest ranking) - Tidings
"Allison Crowe's 'Tidings' showcases a powerful folk voice, opening with a goosebump-inducing a cappella 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear'."
Chair of the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Gerry Grzyb, AKA Dr. Christmas, is cited as America's foremost authority on Christmas music ~ with an ear to good music of all genres. Each year since 1989 he's sifted through a mass of new seasonal releases, searching for the gems, outside the mainstream, that make the cut to be played on his radio show, an epic tradition broadcast on Wisconsin's WRST-FM.
Following his marathon (six-day) radio program this holiday season, "Dr. Christmas" wrote to say: "Of over 100 new Christmas CDs played on my show, Allison's drew the most listener interest."
Seasonal CD Reviews: Three of this festive season's offerings really stand out
Joseph Blake, The Times Colonist (Canada)
Sunday, December 19, 2004
What would the Christmas season be without a new crop of recordings? The bins are overflowing with seasonal CDs, but three of this year's output really stand out:
Young Nanaimo pop diva Allison Crowe's recently released Tidings collects surprisingly moving versions of traditional Christmas favourites such as Silent Night, In the Bleak Midwinter, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, The First Noel and O Holy Night and truly transcendent versions of Joni Mitchell's River and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
Crowe not only makes these Canadian treasures her own, she does almost as much with Lennon and McCartney's In My Life and Let It Be, the Stones' Shine a Light and Sarah McLachlan's Angel.
With each recording Crowe becomes a more stunning vocalist. She's got a very big voice, and she's learning how to use it to embody a song. This high concept seasonal sampler is a triumph. Highly recommended.
Tidings: CD Review
Sophia Gurley, The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music (USA)
Allison Crowe's powerhouse vocals are front and centre in these holiday and cover songs, giving them a lot of life and presence. In addition to the songs on the ep version, this includes: an impressive cover of Joni Mitchell's "River", two Beatles covers, and three additional carols. Ectophiles will find this a strong addition to their collection of seasonal albums. The combination of traditional carols with carefully selected covers is especially enjoyable.
Allison Crowe: Tidings
Cover Corner by Tom Weel: Beatles Unlimited (Netherlands)
May/June 2005 (BU 181)
Allison Crowe's name appeared on Art Monkey's compilation "It Was 40 Years Ago Today" (BU177) and here we have her own seasonal album, with some obvious traditionals (Silent Night, The First Noel, a.o.) The other somewhat contrasting half consists of two Leonard Cohen songs (including the fantastic Hallelujah) and tracks written by Joni Mitchell, the Stones and Beatles: In My Life and Let It Be, which also appeared in a slightly different version on the above mentioned sampler. In an acoustic setting, where she gently accompanies herself on piano (on only three tracks she's joined on bass and drums), her vocals are the most intriguing aspect on every track. She easily flows from dark, soulful and firm to an occasional high note (Mitchell's River) or long vocal draws (as proven in the final album track, a startling version of Sarah McLachlan's Angel). By giving Let It Be the gospel flavour it deserves and with an emotionally sung In My Life, the two Beatles songs fit very well in the album's concept. This all leads to only one conclusion: don't play this during Christmastime. play it the whole year through!
The Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Canada)
Arts, Saturday, December 18, 2004
Allison Crowe (Rubenesque Records/Festival)
The Yuletide find of the year goes to Nanaimo-based singer/songwriter Allison Crowe for Tidings.
What makes the album so wonderful is not only Crowe's powerfully soulful vocals and accomplished piano playing, but the inspired repertoire spanning traditional six carols and contemporary songs with a spiritual dimensions.
Joining such beloved carols as Silent Night and In the Bleak Winter are Joni Mitchell's River, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Lennon and McCartney's Let It Be and In My Life, Jagger and Richard's Shine a Light and Sarah McLachlan's Angel, all of which make for an absolutely stunning seasonal album that can be enjoyed year-round.
In keeping with the simplicity, elegance and intimacy of the season, all but two tracks feature Crowe accompanying herself on piano, with a bass and drums added on two tracks.
Following so closely after Secrets, released on Crowe's own label a few months ago, Tidings confirms the arrival of a recording artist who has what it takes to climb to the highest echelons of Canadian, if not international, pop music.
Hum for the holidays: CD Reviews
Jane Stevenson, The Toronto Sun (Canada)
Sunday, December 19, 2004
**** (four stars)
On this expanded version of a 2003 holiday EP of the same name, this 22-year-old Nanaimo, B.C., singer-pianist evokes a lot of emotion with her strong, trembling voice that suits rock, gospel and blues. Check out the opening a capella version of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. Otherwise, a mostly unadorned Crowe plays piano -- she's joined by bass and drums on three tracks -- and expertly tackles both Christmas classics and less traditional homegrown songs like Joni Mitchell's River, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and Sarah McLachlan's Angel and makes them her own.
(NB In its holiday CD round-up, The Toronto Sun gave four stars to only two releases - Tidings from Allison Crowe, and The Christmas Collection from Frank Sinatra. Other discs covered in this same review included releases from such well-known acts as Chris Isaak 3 1/2 stars, Vanessa Williams, Matt Dusk, and Barenaked Ladies whose offerings each received 3 stars, Jessica Simpson - 1 star and William Hung 1/2 star.)
Robert Moyes, Monday Magazine (Canada)
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
It's that bittersweet time of year when wishful music writers slip bright and shiny discs into the CD tray in the hopes that bright and shiny seasonal tunes will emerge. But, as always, the recordings under review range from naughty to nice.
And for the big finish, ringing out clear as a Christmas bell, we have Nanaimo's sublime Allison Crowe, who has reissued and redoubled last year's Tidings. This new version jumps from six to 12 tunes, but still maintains stark production values, with Allison providing voice and piano, while getting minimal backup via bass and drums on just three cuts. There are a few actual Christmas songs such as "O Holy Night" and "The First Noel," but mostly Crowe selects apropos pop songs (such as Joni Mitchell's "River," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," The Beatles' "Let It Be" and the Jagger-Richards tune "Shine A Light") and presents them as contemporary embodiments of spiritual yearning. Crowe has the soaring, swooping vibrato of a dark angel and will give any music lover
a sultry blast of Christmas cheer.
It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas
Soundscapes: Cool Yule Tunes
Stephen Cooke, The Halifax Herald (Canada)
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Barenaked Ladies, Isaak, Crowe put out holiday discs
WITH A HEALTHY CROP of East Coast Christmas CDs this year - from Terry Kelly, RyLee Madison, Louisa Manuel and Urban Surf Kings - one would hope that national and international acts would be able to match that quota, and darned if there aren't some fun and festive recordings that make this one of the better years for holiday music buffs.
B.C. singer-songwriter Allison Crowe also gets bonus points for tackling Joni Mitchell's River on her CD Tidings (Rubenesque Records), and adding her own flavour to it on this spectral recording that is mostly just voice and piano, with bass and drums on only a few tracks.
Besides traditional numbers like In the Bleak Midwinter and The First Noel, Crowe goes beyond the Christmas canon to include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and The Beatles' Let It Be as pop spirituals, plus a gutsy Shine a Light from the greatest rock and roll album of all time, The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. It's earned the stamp of approval from the Stones' official fan club, which should bring some new listeners to this tremendous Nanaimo talent.
Tidings: Album Review
Gina Morris, E.O.M. (Evolution of Media - USA)
Friday, December 10, 2004
Allison Crowe is a versatile singer/songwriter from Canada who has recorded a fine Christmas album, Tidings. The possessor of a powerful voice that evokes Eva Cassidy and Laura Nyro simultaneously, Allison sings the hell out of this collection of traditional and non-traditional yuletide classics.
What's great about this album is that while some of the usual Christmas song suspects are here--"Silent Night", "The First Noel", "O Holy Night"--there are also some inspired choices, like the Beatles' "Let It Be" and "In My Life" and the Rolling Stones' "Shine A Light", that aren't Christmas songs but fit the spiritual-ness of the occasion. And with just her voice and skillful piano playing, Allison gets right to the heart of these songs with a clarity lacking in many singers today; although, she does give "Shine A Light" a suitably rocking treatment and adds bass and drums to "O Holy Night", it's the piano/voice combo that impresses.
With Tidings, Allison Crowe proves that she is a singer worth keeping an ear out for and, in addition, she has produced one of the least sentimental, and highly listenable Christmas themed albums of recent times. Oh, and her debut album of original songs, Secrets, is pretty nifty too.
It's a great holiday for your stereo
Tom Harrison, The Province (Canada)
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Last year, Nanaimo's Allison Crowe released a seasonal EP that she's now extended to a full-length LP. Featuring her stirring singing and piano accompaniment, Tidings (independent, B) is a marvelously thoughtful album that includes a few traditional songs as well as Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and the Stones' "Shine a Light".
Arts: CD Review
Sarah Towle, The Martlet, Volume 57, Issue 16 (Canada)
Thursday, December 2 2004
I know what you're thinking: Christmas CDs are lame. But hear me out. This one's different. Honest.
Nanaimo's singer/songwriter and pianist Allison Crowe provides a raw and off-beat collection of Christmas songs that she makes her own.
The CD begins with an a cappella version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which shows off her vocal range and intense vibrato. She pays tribute to many Canadian musicians with songs such as Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and Joni Mitchell's "River."
As well, Crowe includes other non-traditional, but still seasonal, songs such as the Lennon-McCartney creations "Let it Be" and "In My Life," and the Rolling Stones' "Shine A Light."
And, for good measure, a few traditional songs arranged by Crowe are thrown into the mix: "Silent Night," "What Child Is This," "The First Noel" and "O Holy Night." Crowe's colourful voice, along with her fluid and polished piano playing, makes each track unique. Plus, the simplistic combination of voice, piano and the occasional tambourine proves a refreshing change from cheesy back-up choirs and synthesizers often heard in Christmas tunes.
Tidings CD Review
Jennifer Patton, Delusions of Adequacy (USA)
November 29, 2004
Tis the season for packed malls, angry shoppers, and Christmas music. It seems anywhere you go from mid-November on, your ears will be bombarded with techno-carols and muzak versions of traditional pieces. It's enough to make even those most filled with the joy of the season feel overwhelmed - and let's not even get started on those of us who don't celebrate Christmas at all. Like me.
Some may think it's odd to be a non-Christian writing about a Christmas album, but I like Allison Crowe, and Tidings isn't any old holiday disc. On this release, Allison offers up a mix of traditional hymns as well as a selection of covers all beautifully enveloped in her unique style. There are no hokey gimmicks and no cutesy kids' songs. Best of all, there is enough of a blend of styles that you won't find yourself bored at any point or on spiritual music overload.
The album begins with an excellent a capella version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which immediately showcases her silky but strong voice. This moves quickly into a version of Joni Mitchell's "River," which is a hit just for being included, but Allison approaches the song by accompanying herself on piano and with tons of finesse. This is a simply beautiful track that fits just as easily with a spiritual album as it would a folk record.
Crowe's other more modern covers include Leonard Cohen's "Hallellujah," Sarah McLachlan's "Angel," the Rolling Stones' "Shine a Light," and "Let it Be" and "In My Life," both by the Beatles. The Cohen and McLachlan tunes are starkly stunning pieces that blend perfectly with the theme of Tidings. The Beatles songs fit as well, but it's important to note that Crowe really makes these her own, whereas so many musicians come off like karaoke singers when attempting to tackle anything from the Fab Five catalog.
Allison's approach for the other hymns is one of sheer simplicity. She is complemented on three tracks by David Baird (bass) and Kevin Clevette (drums), but everything else is just her and a piano with a little bit of tambourine. You will find the more familiar such as "Silent Night" and "The First Noel" side by side with the unusual "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "What Child is This?" All are presented with such poise and exquisiteness that you can't help but feel inspired.
While Tidings is definitely a Christmas album, there is clearly quite a bit for most people to enjoy here. This would make a perfect backdrop to any holiday party or even just for a quiet winter night in front of a roaring fire. If you celebrate Christmas, this is one release that should be in your stereo for many Decembers to come.
Tidings: CD Review
Teri McIntyre, Empowerment4Women (USA)
If you are looking for something a little different this year in terms of a Christmas album, Tidings by Allison Crowe certainly fits the bill. This e.p., composed of covers of traditional and modern seasonal hymns, is a wonderful addition to the more obvious fare people choose to play at that time of the year.
For traditional tracks, Crowe begins with the classic "Silent Night," rendering its delicate structure with a deep warmth and spirit. The same goes for "O Holy Night." "In The Bleak of Winter" sports a more pop arrangement that is equally inviting.
For modern tracks, Crowe creatively selected three imaginative tracks. She wraps her impressive vocals around the Leonard Cohen favorite "Hallelujah" to create a thunderously moving aural experience. Next, Crowe tackles The Rolling Stones "Shine A Light," a track from their Exile On Main Street album. She brings forth a powerful sense of redemption from the lyrics that is highly engaging. Rounding out the album is a "live off the floor" rendition of Sarah McLachlan's maudlin "Angel." Crowe manages to give the song a refreshing, blown-out emotional take that, for some, may surpass the original.
Crowe may have intended the album to be a seasonal experience, but the great arrangements and her memorable vocals make Tidings an album worthy of repeated play all year round.
Allison Crowe - pick of the day/week
Record of the Day (UK)
August 3, 2004
In August, 2004, the London, England-based music industry source, Record of the Day, selected Allison Crowe's version of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" as its record of the day and week, telling its audience:
"Bet you thought you heard all the versions you need to hear of this song, right? Think again, because Allison Crowe has a voice to fall in love with. She is from Vancouver Island in Canada, descended from Irish and Manx stock. She's exactly the sort of artist who can make serious headway on her own label and that's just what she's doing."
(Record of the Day is a prognosticator of musical talent, and has tipped people early to such artists as Damien Rice, The Darkness, Keane and The Black Eyed Peas.)
From Fragmentation to Wholeness
Shirley Goldberg, Mo Magazine (Canada)
In the final number, Allison Crowe at the piano joined Crimson Coast's Holly Bright for a radiant, rousing, celebratory rendition of Leonard Cohen's lovely "Hallelujah," with Holly's graceful, expansive movements providing the visual corollary for Allison's full, vibrant voice, completing the circle, merging body and spirit, body and mind.
Allison Crowe: Artist Spotlight
New Songs for Peace Project (International)
"Allison Crowe may not be well-known now but this young woman has the voice and talent to be the next Alanis or Norah. The raw emotions in her hauntingly beautiful rendition of 'Angel' should convince you of her potential."