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Julie Crochetiere - Counting Dreams (2014)
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Julie Crochetiere - Counting Dreams (2014)

20-05-2014, 18:51
Music | Jazz | Vocal Jazz | Soul

Julie Crochetiere - Counting Dreams (2014)

Artist: Julie Crochetiere
Title Of Album: Counting Dreams
Year Of Release: 2014
Genre: Jazz/Soul Vocals
Label: Vega Musique
Format: MP3
Quality: 320 kbps, 44.1 Khz
Total Time: 44:39
Total Size: 105 Mb
Covers: Front

01. Who's Gonna Love Me - Like You Did (3:08)
02. Over The Rainbow (4:05)
03. Straight Line (4:26)
04. You Need More Than Love (4:23)
05. Counting Dreams (4:22)
06. When It Rains (4:50)
07. My Sinking Heart (3:35)
08. On Va S'aimer Encore (4:33)
09. The Better Part Of Me (4:11)
10. Real Life (4:01)
11. For All We Know (2:59)

Julie Crochetière is a rare artist. She can craft the perfect song, doesn’t matter if you can dance to it or cry along in the darkest corner of your room, she’s got it down. The Montreal singer/songwriter’s been crafting perfect songs since she hit it big with “A Better Place” in 2007. She’s been singing her heart out since her teens, after discovering the perfect songs of a legion of 1970s artists, Carole King, Bill Withers, Roberta Flack, even Nina Simone.

Her new album “Counting Dreams” is another dream release, well executed, perfectly crafted, deeply personal, and a surefire universal hit soundtrack of 11 songs about loss, love, and pushing through, two of them favorite covers, that beg to be played to death. “Counting Dreams [Vega Musique/DEP/Universal]” comes out on May 6, 2014 in physical and digital forms for Canada and digital for the rest of the world. Listeners can pre-order Crochetiere’s fourth solo release beginning March 18 on iTunes, scoring two free advanced songs in the bargain.

Known for following her heart, Crochetiere took to the studio last fall in Montreal for a week of live, off-the-floor recordings with a bare bones rhythm section — keyboardist Joel Campbell, bassist Russ Boswell, percussionist Max Sansalone — and the Quatuor Orphée string quartet, featuring harpist Sara Page. After hearing so many voices in the music business tell her who she was supposed to be — jazz, pop, soul, indie, what to do and how to proceed, Crochetiere tuned them all out and set forth on writing and performing songs in her own spare style.

For this record, she let the songs tell their stories, without piling on. “Simplicity is where the authenticity is. There’s truth there,” Crochetiere explained. “This project has been in my head for 10 years… I knew I wanted to make something very spare, I wanted to hear the songs, but I also wanted to hear the air around the notes. There is always such a temptation to add another instrument, to stack another vocal, it’s like the arrangement is trying to seduce the song… ‘It’d sound great with horns, don’t ya think?’ But this record had its own voice…”

The voice draws comparisons to Carole King, Diane Birch, Adele, and Roberta Flack. Not surprising, since most of Crochetiere’s early influences came from the 1970s. As a young girl, she’d hole up in the basement wearing out the grooves of her parents’ record collection, trying to unlock some code… while her peers blissed out to Duran Duran and Platinum Blonde. Listeners will do the same when they get a hold of this album.

To quote Crochetiere’s 10th track, “Real Life,” “Everything” on this album “is good as gold.” She sings truthfully about past hurts, terrible losses, and doing the work to rise above and become a stronger person. She sings each song — that she wrote or covers — as if she lived to tell the tale and is there beside you every step of the way to help you through.

“Who’s Gonna Love Me (Like You Did)” is the first song off this album, and a tearjerker. This is where the string quartet comes in to enhance the poignant imprint of the passing of a good friend, “partners in crime, nothing could stop us from living the life we dreamed of, time on our side, sweetest illusion allowed us the freedom to love.” Crochetiere never lets her voice completely sink into despair, holding onto as much of the good times as she can remember, which only serves to make the listener cry harder in that tension. It’s a fitting tribute for all of us who’ve lost loved ones.

At first glance, using a string section so heavily seems a little classically limiting. Yet, Crochetiere’s managed to co-produce — with Tim Gowdy (Keith Kouna, The Barr Brothers, Coral Egan) and considerable string arrangements by Robin Smith (Andrea Bocelli, Cher) — pieces that defy any musical definition while fitting in all the requisite melodic categories.

Whether it’s the string quartet’s fetchingly arc construct at the 1:29 mark in “Straight Line,” the dramatic overtures overlapping “Over The Rainbow,” or the regretful reverie swirling around “Counting Dreams,” Crochetiere draws in a limitless array of possibilities depending on her mood.

No matter how dark the mood, Crochetiere never allows herself to sink to the bottom. With her vocal and musical choices, she’s always leading the way out, lifting every well-chosen lyrical note toward the light.

“You Need More Than Love” packs a powerful punch. With a few, well-chosen words, her on acoustic piano, and the Quartette Orphée by her side, Crochetiere forges ahead in a song about surviving a Narcissist. The spare but true lyrics speak for themselves: “I can’t carry you, tried to push you through. You say you mean well. Time makes people change. You just stay the same. You say you mean well. You know better, sorry is never enough. Sorry won’t bring back my trust. Five simple words that could sum this up: You need more than love.” The string quartet more than amply serves to support her stand, hinting at the torment and the enormous strength it must’ve taken for Crochetiere — and anyone else — to walk away from such a lost cause. By the time she repeats the chorus, your fist is up in the air, the tears are streaming down your face, and you’re swaying in time to the gentle rhythm.

If “You Need More Than Love” gets to you, “My Sinking Heart” will get you singing along like that little girl in her parents’ basement wearing out the grooves to her favorite records. The chorus is ridiculously infectious, rising and rising to this impossible high. The smooth swath of the strings perfectly captures Crochetiere’s love-struck cadences, a certifiable Top 40 hit, as hypnotic and viable as her 2008 hit single “Precious Love.”

Most people blast some kind of heavy metal or rap when they work out. How about Crochetiere’s piano and strings mix? “The Better Part Of Me” is as inspirational as they come. She takes the best parts of piano — a serious vocal accompaniment — and strings — a touch of heaven — to affirm the best in all of us. She climbs and climbs and climbs such a daunting hill (“When skies are falling, I won’t be calling on you… I know I’ve been broken… When time are tough, I wanna close my eyes too…”). By the time she reaches this part — “I’ll be taller, I’ll be beautiful, I’ll be better than I ever thought I could. I’ll reach way up high, be the moon in the sky, come hell or high water, I’ll be the better part of me” — and then this show-stopping gospel-kissed bridge— “Don’t look for me down by the river. There’s nothing for me in your gutters. Just look way up high and you’ll see me fly” — your entire body is levitating.

The last song on the album is one of Crochetiere’s favorites. It’ll be yours too. Donny Hathaway’s haunting ode to lost loved ones, “For All We Know,” is improved by the inclusion of strings and Crochetiere’s tremendously restrained, deferential vocal sweep. She imparts significance with every tender, loving word, enhanced by harpist Sara Page’s musical undertones, a sun-dappled embrace. Crochetiere sings as if she understands what it means to have loved and lost, and what it means still to hold fast to those wonderful memories, and never take another moment for granted.

Julie Crochetière is a different singer. She doesn’t try to show off or do more with a song than is necessary. She doesn’t try to be more than she is. She lets the song breathe and live through her. In return, she touches your soul forever. You’ll be wearing the grooves out in this one.

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