Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday Spotlight: Chantal Kreviazuk

Welcome to another Saturday, everyone! Yes, I know this is later than expected, but I was talking about Neil Gaiman's American Gods with someone (fantastic book, go read it if you haven't already) and I read "The Babysitter" on Friday and, well, the pinball post decided to show up for the party, so what could I do?

(Note to any writers out there -- whatever you do, when you get an idea, write it down. You will forget it, and regret it for the rest of your life. Trust me.)

Now that I've apologized sufficiently, time for another Saturday Spotlight, this week courtesy of Winnipeg's own Chantal Kreviazuk. Her rise to fame is interesting because she signed on with Sony as a vocalist without having performed a single show live. (If I recall correctly, she sent them some lyrics, and the rest, they say, is history.)

You must be thinking that these Sony people must have had a lot of faith in Kreviazuk to give her a recording contract, and when her 1997 debut album Under These Rocks and Stones hit the shelves, you can bet some of them were nervous. I can hardly blame them, given the situation.

Did she deliver the goods? Well, listen to "Surrounded", and see for yourself:





Kreviazuk's second album, Colour Moving and Still, came out in 1999 and is my second favorite work of hers (my favorite is Ghost Stories, but we'll get to that later). In my opinion, the most accomplished song on the disc is "Far Away", a soulful ballad that had an equally beautiful music video released. You can see it below:




It's clear that Kreviazuk has a great voice and is impressive on CD, but how is she live? Well, take a listen to "Blue" (also from Colour Moving and Still) and tell me what you think.



Chantal took a bit of a break, releasing her next album in 2003. What If It All Means Something is considered her "breakout" album in a sense, because it contained hit singles like "In This Life" and "Time" that gave her a wider audience in the US; however, its produced sound worried some fans about the direction Kreviazuk's music was taking. Chantal herself expressed frustration with how some of the songs were handled in the studio -- justifying the fans' concern -- but that same production led to great songs like "Waiting", which you can hear below.




Following What If It All Means Something's release, Kreviazuk began a period in which she had two children and co-wrote hit songs for many artists (Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani among them). Perhaps this time away from the spotlight helped her when it came time to record Ghost Stories, her fourth and (in my opinion) her best record. The producer, her husband Raine Maida, put not a single guitar on the album, leaving room for Chantal and her piano to breathe... and does it show.

Here's the lead single, "All I Can Do".

And here's the second single from that album, the terrific "Wonderful", performed live.


To end this post, here's one of the best songs on Ghost Stories (and in her entire repetoire), "Waiting for the Sun". Please enjoy.


Until next time,

Paul

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