# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Annabelle Chvostek - Rise

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 26 / 3 / 2013

Annabelle Chvostek - Rise
Label: Borealis Records
Format: CD


Unabashedly political and completely remarkable second solo album from Canadian singer-songwriter and one-time Wailin' Jennys member, Annabelle Chvostek

The revolutionary red cover and album title leave you in little doubt as to what is troubling former Wailin’ Jenny Annabelle Chvostek on her latest album, the second she has released since leaving the Jennys in 2007. ‘Rise’ is a collection of twelve songs, ten originals and two covers, which, for the main part, are unabashedly political making the album one of the most important collections of protest songs in quite a while. For those of a certain age whenever the words protest song are heard images of earnest young men with acoustic guitars appear. It has changed a little through the years. In the 1980s our best homegrown protest singer had a voice like a foghorn and wrung razor-sharp sounds out of his electric guitar, which demanded that you listened to the message in his songs. But while Chvostek is angry about a number of issues in this unfair world we live in, the protest songs she sings on ‘Rise’ approach the problems in a different way to most others. The first two songs belie the heaviness of the lyrics in the sweet, joyous way that Chvostek and producer Don Kerr construct the songs. Opener ‘The End of the Road’ is a mandolin-led sing-along that captures perfectly Chvostek’s joy when thousands got involved in with the Occupy movement in Montreal. While it is obviously important to Chvostek to get the message of unity across in the songs she has written on this album, wrapping some of the songs up in warm, appealing melodies that are impossible to resist is an extremely smart move. The Occupy movement is close to Chvostek’s heart. That much is obvious, but without wishing to take any of the power and passion away from her lyrics it can be said that this song, and it is not the only track on the album that this applies to, is going to appeal to a much wider audience than one would normally expect to appreciate protest songs. Firstly Chvostek has such an appealing voice. It is no surprise she was chosen to replace Cara Luft in the Wailin’ Jennys. She is surely one of the best vocalists Canada has produced. There is a kind of restrained emotion in Chvostek’s vocals that few of her contemporaries can match. Secondly Chvostek is such an accomplished multi-instrumentalist; her mandolin and violin playing on this album really do add extra dimensions to her already intriguing songs. So, although ‘Rise’ is rightly being pushed as an album of protest/political songs, let us not lose sight of the fact that, despite weighty lyrics, these are not necessarily angry songs. In fact many of them have a celebratory feel about them. Even the second track, ‘G20 Song’, which chronicles the events that took place in Toronto in June 2010, features some of Chvostek’s most biting lyrics yet still has a positive vibe about it. Again Chvostek adds an unexpected twist to this song by introducing an Eastern European feel which she returns to throughout the album. This alone lifts the spirit of many of these songs and sets them apart from what we have come to expect from protest songs. A People’s Chorus, a group of singers that Chvostek assembled for this project, end the song chanting “The people united will never be defeated!”, and, despite the brutally honest picture conjured up by her lyrics, Chvostek creates a positive feeling at the close of the song. It is an exceptional piece of work. There is a story behind each and every one of the original songs on ‘Rise’,and it is almost pointless highlighting any particular track as Chvostek covers a lot of ground musically here. ‘The Will of How’ has a nice, mellow jazz feel displaying just how versatile Chvostek is as a vocalist, ‘Fox Tail’ is more in the style of Chvostek’s earlier work and the title track must rank as one of Chvostek’s best ever. Writing about a neighbourhood named Mile End in Montreal, which is obviously another subject close to Chvostek’s heart, the opening lines are particularly affective: ”Tucked behind the tracks and the textile factory/There’s a grassy meadow, Spotted with some trees/But the railway corporation claims it/Profit used to justify the gun.” Set to a typical captivating Chvostek melody, the song is simply stunning. As for the covers, the Lou Reed penned ‘Some Kinda Love’ adds a jazzier slant to the original Velvet Underground song but, apart from Chvostek’s breathy vocals being more immediately more appealing than Reed’s, there is little to choose between the two versions. The closing cover of Peter Tosh’s ‘Equal Rights’ is something else altogether. Fitting in perfectly with the rest of the album, this is a cover where Chvostek really does add new dimensions to the song and which will widen its appeal. Utilizing A People’s Chorus to great effect Chvostek doesn’t totally discard the song’s reggae origins. It’s a surprise addition to the album but a totally relevant one, and a version that closes a remarkable collection of songs in great style.

Track Listing:-
1 End of the Road
2 G20 Song
3 Baby Sleep 'till ?túrovo
4 The Will of How
5 All Have Some
6 Fox Tail
7 Rise
8 Hartland Quay
9 Do You Think You're Right
10 Ona (in Toronto I Get More Hugs, in Montréal I Get More Kisses)
11 Some Kinda Love
12 Equal Rights

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