Thursday, 29 October 2015

Allison Crowe - Newfoundland Vinyl 3, album review

Riddle-I-Day Me Boys

I wasn’t aware of the preceding two Newfoundland Vinyl albums in the series, a folk focused celebration of the west coast of Newfoundland, and best described on Allison Crowe’s own site:

Conceived by Jeff Pitcher, Artistic Director of Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, (TNL - the Atlantic Canadian professional theatre company founded in 1979), the hit stage show’s under the Musical Direction of Allison Crowe who’s been with the production from its launch in 2012.

Each Summer Allison Crowe delights in residing in the beauty of Gros Morne National Park - an UNESCO world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland. In working with her wonderfully-talented cast and crew, Allison records a selection of songs to be included in the show repertoire. Once the play’s run its season, she selects some of her favourite tunes to share from this collection.

I am also discovering a side to Crowe’s performance – not entirely new – where a ‘restraint’ in the often impressive drama of her vocal allows, for me, the natural beauty in her tone and tremolo to be sustained throughout, with emotive pulses that have all the more impact for being occasional.

Opener Up She Rises is a generic folk song with strummed acoustic guitar, sweet but distant vocal choir and the rousing upbeat of the chorus. This is followed by Cliffs of La Scie, a wonderful traditional narrative from a male persona lamenting loss, even after he has found some happiness, Crowe singing empathetically, and beautifully, relaying the pain and sorrow [just a tired old man with his fond memories], the vocal choir here quite angelic. Third Lucky’s Boat is a sprightly Celtic romp driven by percussion and tight vocals racing through the rhymes and ‘riddle-i-days’!

Further jaunts and ‘me boys’ abound with Crowe bringing a joyous appreciation to the traditional folk roots of the songwriting and authentic presentations, storytelling to the fore. When Johnny meets St Peter in Johnny’s Moonshine, the angelic chorus takes on a more satirical support, and unable to meet the demands being placed on his entry to heaven, Johnny decides to take me moonshine can and trudge on down below.

The gorgeous Snowy White is a sweet centrepiece in the album, the acoustic guitar reminding of that other great Canadian artist Leonard Cohen, and the vocal partnership again of Crowe and the backing folk ‘choir’ in perfect synergy. The Green Green Grass of Home gets classic Crowe coverage where she does make such well-known songs her own with distinctive passion.

This is definitely traditional fare delivered with genuine, folk-honest class and I recommend. You can download the album here at a ridiculously cheap and therefore generous price!


  1. You're putting the wind in our sails. Thanks for this delightful review. So happy you've discovered this - and Allison's other - music :)

    Sláinte mhaith!!

  2. p.s. Allison's body of work is so extensive, it's not simple even for me to offer selections to cover all elements of her artistry. Your review here suggests to me, should you not already have discovered it, you may find pleasure anew in her "Little Light" album. It contains some of Allison's most restrained performances, and there's a gentle sweetness in such performances as this one, "Hold Back" - - in which she's true to the song’s title :) Thanks, again.