Allison Crowe: Little Light

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.

Allison Crowe – Northern Lights (mp3)
Allison Crowe – Disease (mp3)
Allison Crowe – Hold Back (mp3)

Allison Crowe Official Site

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2 thoughts on “Allison Crowe: Little Light

  1. “Don’t worry. I’ll still rip out my throat.” :o)

    That’s the word from Allison hehe (well, as close as I can capture it, as I’ve had more email/MSN glitches today). Delightful, always to read your incisive comments.

    My perspective – is that this album is akin to Allison’s Led Zeppelin III. If you’re a fan of that band, you know how half that collection is acoustic songs, such as Tangerine (songs I still love among my Zep favorites) – which came as a surprise when first released. Still, there was plenty of howl to come from Robert Plant. Health willing, Allison has a few decades as well before she makes her Raising Sand.

    Lots of full-armed piano-shredding ahead, too!

    New textures and songs – all part of the mix. Live now, it’s crazy the variety of sounds. And solo!!

    Happy May Day!

    p.s. Allison loves Glen Hansard, too ( :

  2. + Your description of Little Light as being like a hybrid of This Little Bird and Live at Wood Hall is very true.

    A further note to how Allison’s music and repertoire is today, she’s also recorded more than an album’s worth of songs – working title of, “Aquarius Rising”, or, “No Matter the Battle”. Sonically, she hears these songs as having full band elements – as big as U2 or Smashing Pumpkins in their day. Orchestras, too. So, whenever those recordings are completed, we’ll be hearing some full-throated music with accompaniment that is bigger than anything yet created by Allison…

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