Thursday, 3 September 2015

Allison Crowe - Spiral, album review

Honest and Heartfelt, Both of Them

This 2010 album from Canadian chanteuse Crowe embraces all that makes her distinctive as a vocalist and musician: sheer sustained energy in the singing; the vocal virtuosity of that singing. It is, as I have written before, an intense listening experience.

Album opener Dearly reflects that intensity from the off – the vocal warble and lightening movement across vocal pitches is impressive. I think this is neatly countered by next Double-Edged Swords where the upbeat pop of the tune and speed of delivery present another side to her singing, a captivating romp across lively lyrics. Third is a lovely cover of Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No 2, and Crowe excels at emotive covers of fine songs, the cello of Brendan Millbank adding further depth to the storytelling of this track, empathetically sung.

Fifth Oceans is another song that displays Crowe’s range - it isn’t all in the dynamic virtuosity: here she reveals a softer, sweet but no less potent and affecting delivery of an excellent self-penned song. Next I Don’t Know returns to an intense focus, both in the powerful introspection of the lyrics and puissance of matching vocal. Seventh Spiral is similarly dramatic. Crowe’s cover of Lennox’s Why is interesting as the original power is interpreted differently, the acoustic guitar core of this version focusing inwards – though strings layer expected atmospheric breadth – and Crowe reminds me of Melanie at times in this rawer intensity that resonates with an honesty in its tone.

The album continues with this relative variety, and I welcome the textures portrayed.

Allison’s manager Adrian has been good enough to engage in discussion in the Comments section of my two previous reviews of her work [type ‘Allison Crowe’ in the search bar for both] but his latest here is absolutely fascinating for its insights into the music industry as a whole as well as his personal engagement with Crowe’s music and direction as an artist. His passion and articulation of this is utterly honest and heartfelt. 



  1. Lovely commentary - which brings joy :) fyi, nothing is yet set - however we aim to have Allison (perhaps with band) perform concerts in Hastings (one of my favourite places in the world), London and other UK concert spots in 2016. May we have opportunity to pick up the conversation in person some day :) Cheers!

    1. That would be excellent Adrian - I look forward. I did, in fact, leave a reply to your previous comment [referenced in this posting] but it was lost immediately as I tried to 'publish' it! I will write again. Wishing you well.