Hailing from Toronto, Annabelle Chvostek has been working up a dedicated little following over the last decade with performances with, and links to, the likes of Bruce Cockburn and Bonnie Raitt. She was part of the kooky band ‘Wailin’ Jenny’s’ for a short time and is now building a reputation as a distinctive singer-songwriter with a commanding voice and a punky-rockabilly style of playing her trusty Kay guitar. Her label describe her as “Someone whose talent is so exceptional that [she is able] to explore and master any musical genre she wishes”.
That talent is showcased on this album with a range of diverse influences including some kinda rockabilly surf rock on the wonderful title track. ‘Be The Media’ is a strut through the perverse influence that the media seem to have everywhere today and is a clarion call for us all to do something about it and to literally “be the media”. The lusty Jazz leanings of the swaggering ‘Carnal Delights’ make it as delightful as it sounds with a lovely catchy chorus and also features what sounds like a saw too. There are several doom laden folky pleasures to be found here too like ‘Jerusalem’ that commences with full acoustic guitar strums and a hymnal quality with a taut violin floating around in the mix. Annabelle has a rich distinctive voice that gives the song an air of majesty and grandeur.
Be The Media by Annabelle Chvostek
‘Black Hole’ commences with some space-age static and weird guitar effects before a reverebed guitar and a gentle tambourine take us gently out into space as Chvostek and her small band create a journey through the cosmos. Unlikely, but fun all the same and a good example of the eclectic nature of the record.
‘This Night’ has a cool jazzy vocal and a catchy guitar figure with Chvostek’s vocal that is cute and cutting by turns. The album was cut live with her four piece band in a big old Canadian country house and that seems to give the songs a clarity and immediacy that give the whole album a real fresh feel.
‘You Can Come Now’ features a superb swooping vocal with a echoey swampy guitar enhancing the simplicity of this lovely ballad. A gentle mandolin strums us into a surprising cover of Neil Young’s epic ‘Like a Hurricane’. In Neil’s hands this us usually a 15 minute guitar firestorm that is often a show closer for shows with the mighty Crazy Horse. Chvostek takes the song apart at the seams and presents it as a gentle but intense ballad of lost love as her voice swoops and soars over the insistent mandolin. Her version clocks in at a sedate five minutes and four seconds and there isn’t a single superfluous second. Terrific stuff and an abject lesson in how to cover a song and make it your own.
We’re back into punky territory for the following ‘Inside The Scream/Screen’ with chopping guitar, simplistic drums and Chvostek’s laconic voice rolling across the song with a Patti Smith kind of passion. Simple but effective. The album ends with ‘Say it Right’ a plea for, well, getting it said right! The guitar has a kind of Lou Reed type of cool strut and it’s the right way to leave the album – you naturally want to go right back to the start.
Reviewer: Greg Johnson