Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Here's the difference between this and a standard singer-songwriter album:  All the rich instrumentation behind isn't just plunked-on strings and such, added to sweeten or heighten the mood.  Instead, it's integral to the songs, as much a part of the numbers as the lyrics or melody.  It's also subtle, enjoyable, unique, with just a few select sounds.  That's because Meanwell is also a classical musician, and a former member of the esteemed Quartetto Gelato.  And, it's all played live, together, one take.

Meanwell gathered a small group of friends and favourite players to collaborate on these ten songs.  There's Anna Atkinson on violin and accordion, Eric St-Laurent on guitar, Michael McCLennan playing bass, Ian Harper handling reeds, Graham Hargrove doing percussion, and Meanwell covering guitar, banjo, cello, concertina, and lead vocals.  The idea was to find the ultimate way to capture a performance, and it was decided it would be done live, in a fine-sounding space, recording both audio and video.  So we get the songs on CD and DVD, as they happened.  The musicians were up for the task.  Each number has its own flavour, whether it's the casual jazz of Song Of Innocence, with its sweet clarinet, from an innocent time, or the folk country of Waiting, St-Laurent whipping out a great acoustic solo.  It doesn't serve is a haunting blues, where slide guitar, bass, cello and violin weave around each other.

He's quite a cat, really.  This is a guy who can tread the boards with the Quartetto for ten years, create his own music for the Stratford Theatre stage, but also work in the folk world, and write poetic but universal lyrics, which are easy to relate to.  There's no confusion or conflict between highbrow or common styles here, it's all one, one for all listeners.

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