Friday, October 20, 2006

And now for someone completely talented...Allison Crowe

I have been spoilt for live music recently. After a year of self-imposed famine, because I could not listen to music without falling apart and howling, I have been catching up. Last week, Kathryn Williams at Islington Union Chapel, who made that lovely building incandescent with her gentle lyricism; last night, La Traviata at the E.N.O - my first Traviata, my face wet, my hand in J's, his face wet too. And tonight, I went to Lauderdale House on Highgate Hill and saw an astonishing talent: 25-year old Canadian singer/songwriter Allison Crowe for the first time.

I didn't know about Allison Crowe until a few days ago: she is not well known in the UK. I blogged last week, unhappy and frustrated about the unwanted attentions of the paranoid, the lonely, the angry, and how one song was keeping me sane. That song was a cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and after googling it and listening to a score of versions, one leapt out at me because of its technical adeptness and its passionate power.

And then I got an email from Allison's manager who must have checked his site stats: would I like to come and hear her? This Friday or Saturday night? She was in London. And I said yes, on the strength and power and beauty of one song, that had blown me sideways. I didn't know anything about her. But I knew what I had heard was special.

Here, listen. Have you ever wanted to be able to say to people in twenty years time: I first heard her a long time ago, I knew...

Well, then, this is one of those chances. You can see her tomorrow, Saturday, at The Halo, 317 Battersea Park Road, London, England SW11 4LT, an Oxjam gig ( for Oxfam) . And you can tell people you were there.

And I am not going to try to describe precisely what she sounds like, because this is the internet and you can listen and decide; listen to her accompanying herself on the piano, and you can hear for yourself. This is miracle music that is as natural as breathing, this is passion that is too big for the small room she played tonight, this is a talent that you feel privileged to discover once every ten years.

Listen some more...
(Especially this one: a cover of A Case of You, (Joni Mitchell).


Anonymous The Morningstar said...

Thanks for posting this, I first heard the song Hallelujah in a Tv program and I think it was The West Wing, I can't remember what episode and I'm not going to watch them all again until I have the last season.

It's a very moving song, powerful and yet depending on who sings it you can take something different from it.

Thanks again for reminding me of it.


October 21, 2006 12:20 pm  
Anonymous muninnhuginn said...

Thank you for those links.

Her cover of Hallelujah is wonderful. I played it back to back with the original and I'm not certain I don't prefer Allison's version to Len's.

The entire "Tidings" album looks (sounds?) promising, including a version of What Child is This?. I've been wanting a good version of that for a long while.

October 21, 2006 3:38 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

I've just discovered your blog and am very pleased indeed. Keep it up.
Being a Canadian and a fan of much Canadian music, I know Alison well. I couldn't help noticing that songs you had linked were also done beautifully by one K.D. Lang, another Canadian, now living in the US. Earlier she released an albumn called "Hymns of the 49th Parallel", all cover songs of Canadian songwriters. I think you'd really enjoy it. What I've noticed about many of these songs is not only the beauty of K.D.'s voice, or Alison's for that matter, but the amazing songwriting that seems to live on and on. Jewels like Leonard Cohen are very rare indeed and are a gift to the world, not just Canada.

Check out, my take on "Hymns"

October 21, 2006 4:11 pm  
Anonymous joty said...

Thank you for this rachel. Viva la musica!

See it on youtube at:
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) - Allison Crowe live performance

October 21, 2006 4:30 pm  
Anonymous Pete said...

I enjoyed that ... thanks. I think a Leonard Cohen revival is about due.

I remember going to see Supertramp sometime in the 70s in (I think) Hull. They were absolutely excellent but I walked out thinking that the best set of the night had been by a, then unknown, singer. She blew the crowd away with a compilation of her own songs. The singer - Joan Armatrading.

October 21, 2006 6:34 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

Thanks for the recommendation Rachel. Am going to go and find some more songs from this lady now.

Did you hear the version of "Hallelujah" by Imogen Heap?

October 22, 2006 12:47 pm  
Blogger Elf Leader said...

Thanks for posting this - I love the Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah but this version is as moving.

She has an amazing voice, I am going to check some of her other stuff out on Ebay.

I would also recommend Sarah McLachlan her Surfacing album is amazing.

October 22, 2006 12:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel. I am a fan of your blog for your excellent contribution to the political blogosphere, but on this topic, have a listen to Kathryn Williams' excellent covers record Relations, which features an awe-inspiring version of this track.

October 25, 2006 1:48 pm  
Anonymous JuliaM said...

"I first heard the song Hallelujah in a Tv program and I think it was The West Wing, I can't remember what episode"

'Posse Comitatus' - final episode, of season three. It's the Jeff Buckley version, currently the best, IMHO.

This Allison Crowe version is far too overly dramatic for my tastes....

October 27, 2006 5:28 pm  
Blogger Adrian said...

Allison (Crowe's) recording of Hallelujah gave me strength through some of my weakest health. To me it's a miracle of spiritual communication - and I'm always joyed to know it's reaching others in the same way ( :

Leonard Cohen - hail!

't's a pleasure to have met you, Rachel, and J - thanks for coming out

and, indeed, on our return, we'll seek a room of the right size (last year, Allison performed at Bush Hall in Central London - and that was able to hold the emotion - this year, we aimed to visit North London and South London!)

peace to all, and thanks

Sláinte mhaith, Adrian

October 28, 2006 4:59 pm  

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