Little Light is the newest singer-songwriter collection from Allison Crowe. It opens with a rustically shimmering version of "Northern Lights" - a song Allison performed 'specially for the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness, Scotland. "Angels" is recorded live at St. Andrew's United Church, Christmas-time, in Allison's birthplace, Nanaimo, Canada. She's backed here by bassist Dave Baird and percussionist Laurent Boucher. "Disease", a song of social conscience, has, through years of live performance, become epic - channeling Beethoven, grunge and more. Here 't'is captured in its raging glory by Engineer-Producer Larry Anschell and Co-Engineer Brad Graham (on International Women's Day 2008, the same night celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Anschell's Turtle Recording Studios). Title track "Little Light" is among a set of guitar songs that reveal a different sort of Allison Crowe's writerly reflections in music. "Happy People", like such earlier songs as Ray Davies' Kinky "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", and Crowe's own, "Skeletons and Spirits", a bright melody coats more acid observations. Strong and gentle poetics of "Hold Back" warm us by a fire kindled in the '70s by Joni Mitchell. "Choose to Be" bridges the piano sound of Allison's "This Little Bird" songs with her new tunes. Bob Dylan's ramblin' shoes lead to a less restless farewell, as the album closes with "Wedding Song" - Crowe's sweetest, rootsiest, love song to date.
The interpretations on this collection are: "Time After Time" - originally a hit for that most unusual girl, Cyndi Lauper - Allison, a child of the '80s gives her impassioned take, live (Scott LittleJohn recording this, the same night as "Angels"); "Running for Home", is a cover of the Matthew Good Band, and one of the songs Allison has performed since her teens; and, by way of the Righteous Babe, Ani DiFranco, comes Allison's vocal-guitar nod to the great peace-loving bard, Phil Ochs - "When I'm Gone". "Can't be singing louder than the guns when I'm gone, so I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here."
"Ever wonder what it would have been like to listen to a gifted singer/songwriter from Saskatchewan in a small, intimate hall before she became Joni Mitchell? Don't fret the missed opportunity. There's no need to turn back the clock. Check out Allison Crowe..." ~ Robert Reid, The Record (Canada)
"Get a piece of paper and write Tori Amos in the top left hand corner. Then write Patti Smith top right, followed by Stevie Nicks and Leonard Cohen (stay with me) in the bottom two positions. Then draw diagonal lines from their names to the centre, forming a big symmetrical cross. Here is where you will find Allison Crowe's music." ~ The Scene
"Treat yourself to one of the mightiest talents on the singer-songwriter scene today." ~ Bob Muller, JoniMitchell.com (USA)
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 newest album, "Little Light":
Allison Crowe: Little Light
Thursday, May 1, 2008
by Muruch (USA)
Allison Crowe's new album Little Light will be released on May 2nd. I posted a song from the new album last week and just received my advance of the CD. Though in some ways the new album plays like a sequel to This Little Bird, the inclusion of live recordings and the general organic style are closer to her awesome Live At Wood Hall collection. However, the earnest howls of the past often take a backseat in this song cycle to a more somber maturity in the vein of Joni Mitchell. If this change in style is a portent of things to come, I'll miss hearing Allison's unearthly keens rip their way out of her throat... though I understand that's the price that sometimes must be paid for a songwriter's talent to grow.
Little Light opens with "Northern Lights", a gentle acoustic ballad that I posted last July from Allison's performance at the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness, Scotland. Though I must say I love when Allison belts out the big notes, there's a quiet beauty about the tune that better serves the emotion of the lyrics. And Crowe does let out one wail toward the end of the song.
"Angels" and the cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" were recorded live in Canada in 2006. She also tackles Matthew Good's "Running for Home" and Phil Ochs' "When I'm Gone", replacing the dry wistfulness of the better known Ani Difranco rendition with her signature bleeding heart interpretation. I believe that Allison Crowe is the only living person - with the possible exception of Glen Hansard - that can pour their whole being into any cover and make it sound like an entirely new song.
The fervent, mesmeric, piano hammering extended version of "Disease" - originally featured on Live At Wood Hall - is a live recording from last year. "Happy People" begins with some wry humor, but eventually the song becomes possessed as Allison's heartfelt cries mix with a backing choir of voices. As I told her manager when I first heard "Hold Back", I would chew my arm off to sing like Allison. Though I guess that would make it difficult to shred a piano like she does, which seems to be half the fun.