I can't think of a more appropriate artist to officially start this blog off with than Allison Crowe. Readers of my Free Christmas Music blog will likely already be familiar with Tidings, her all-seasons Christmas album that is a delightful mix of traditional Christmas carols and classic rock and contemporary songs about spirituality and redemption. I myself discovered her through that blog when, after posting about the free Christmas MP3s available on last.fm, which included some of Allison's songs, her manager contacted me to let me know about Tidings, which I promptly featured as the first Album Spotlight on my blog. Since then, Tidings has become one of my favourite albums and Allison has become one of my favourite artists, having spent more time in my headphones than any other artist over the last two months.
Allison Crowe is a Canadian singer, songwriter, pianist, and a master interpreter of songs. Originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, she now makes her home clear across the country in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. She has named as influences artists as diverse as Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Tori Amos, and Fiona Apple, as well as styles such as jazz, classical, and musical theatre. At only 26 years old, she has already released 3 studio albums, an EP, a live album, and performed both her own original material and that of her influences in venues across Canada, the United States, and Europe.
Allison Crowe's website features all of her recorded music in MP3 format. ALL of it: 3 studio albums (Tidings, Secrets, and This Little Bird), her debut EP Lisa's Song + 6 Songs, her live album Live at Wood Hall, and a collection of unreleased live and rare recordings. The latter page is particularly interesting, as it features (among other things) Allison's covers of songs by artists like Cyndi Lauper, John Lennon, Jewel, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Tori Amos. In fact, Allison has covered so many of Tori Amos's songs that they have been given their own page on the site; her version of Tori's version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is particularly amazing and really showcases Allison's range, going from barely more than a whisper in the beginning to an angry growl by the end.
All of this music is also nicely summarized in the ABC list, an alphabetical list of all of her songs, along with songwriting credits and links to MP3s for each song that has been recorded (there are a few with no links, as they have not yet been recorded).
So far, my favourite albums are Tidings and Secrets. My favourite songs from the former are "Hallalujah", "In the Bleak Midwinter", "River", and "Shine a Light"; from the latter, "Secrets", "Philosophy", "Montreal", and the live "Whether I'm Wrong". Of the non-album tracks, my favourites include her versions of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Pearl Jam's "Release", John Lennon's "Imagine", and Ani DiFranco's "32 Flavors". There is so much music on her site to absorb that I am constantly finding new favourites.
Okay, I think that's enough talking for now. No matter how much I say about her music, I could never do it proper justice; it really needs to be experienced firsthand. So head on over to Allison Crowe's website, explore it however you want, and listen to this incredibly gifted and unique artist's music. Please leave a comment here after you've done so, as I would love to know what you think of it.