Album – Ghost Stories – Chantal Kreviazuk

Posted by admin on January 8th, 2008

Although I’ve been in Canada for 8 years, the only exposure I’ve had to Chantal’s music has been via brief forays on the web and an appearance on Canadian Idol, where she gave advice to the contestants. I’d always considered her pretty much as a mainstream artists, indeed in many countries she’s distributed via Sony/BMG. Although I usually veer away from mainstream artists, something about Chantal’s music, kept me coming back. When I discovered she was on the Nettwerk label in Canada, I fired off an email and was soon in possession of her latest CD, the one I am reviewing here. Now many’s the time, I’ve not reviewed an album for a while, because I’ve been snowed under, which as a matter of fact is still the case, with this album however, I’ve sat on it because I was a little intimidated. Not because I think of her as some rock demi Goddess, no, but something just made me feel uncomfortable about putting fingers to keyboard, this changed over Christmas, indeed something has clicked for me with a few albums over Christmas, which I’d previously had trouble with, for some reason or other.

Opening with “Ghosts of You”, this track literally blew my socks off. The piano is so catchy and I’m sure I’ve heard bites of it on the TV, probably promoting the album. It’s not only the piano that is great, Chantal’s vocals, have that wondrous mix of emotive hunger and smokey sexiness. I’m not sure of Chantal’s roots, though I realise her name is probably East European / Polish and at times I’m sure I can detect the merest hint of an accent, which is definitely on the sexy side of the equation. “All I Can Do” is the track that follows and is just another example of opening an album with big guns. There’s a lovely piano accompaniment that bubbles under the track, which reminds me of one of those old, slightly out of tune pub pianos, which really adds to the atmosphere of the track, although it sounds like a backhanded compliment.

“Spoken in Tongues” again features a very distinctive piano accompaniment, which seems to be something that spans the entire album. “Mad About You” has that wonderful quirky feel, which many Nettwerk artists have possessed. This track just flows like a silk shirt in a breeze. It’s here that I realised that Chantal doesn’t have the greatest voice, in the classic sense. Don’t get me wrong, this woman can sing, but it’s not a pure pop voice, it’s one with real emotion and feeling, one that really grabs me, shakes me and has me coming back for more. “So Cold” is a delightfully short track, at a tad over 2 minutes and an interesting one, in that it really doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but still manages to captivate.

“Waiting for the Sun” has the melody that bubbles under, driving the track forward and is easily one of stronger tracks on the album. I love how nearly all the tracks have a very different feel and emotion, but are held together by Chantal’s wonderful lyrics and vocals. One of the few dour tracks for me is “You Blamed Yourself”, which really failed to ignite with me for some reason. At a tad over 4 minutes it’s one of the longer tracks on the album, but really failed to gel with me. “Grow Up So Fast” was a very interesting track for me, because it has all the hallmarks of a 70s classic, in a style not too dissimilar to Elkie Brooks, a name many Brits of a certain age will be familiar with.

It’s so hard sometimes to tear my self away from an album review. I don’t usually like to cover each and every track, but I keep finding something exciting and interesting in each and every one here. “Wonderful” again is just a classic in the making. Killer vocals and a melody that really gets under your skin, in a good way that is. “Asylum” probably isn’t the best of names for a track. The only other one I can think of with the same name, is the B side of Gary Numan’s Cars, a track that use to freak the living daylights our of friends that used to sleep over when I was a kid. Here also there is a disturbing feel to the track, again heightened by the piano and strings, that really add to the atmosphere.

“Wendy House” is the longest track on the album, at just over 6 minutes and I have to admit, wasn’t one of my favorite tracks. It really feels like a self indulgent track and may have been better left as the last track on the album.

Within seconds of hearing the start of “Time” I knew this was going to be another amazing track. You can just sense it from the melody and when the vocals started I was well and truly hooked. This is one of the more unusual tracks on the album, as much of the earthy, emotive feel of her vocals is replace with a much more radio friendly pop feel, which while is in stark contrast, works just as well. I have to admit though, I much prefer the earlier vocal style. The album ends with “I Do Believe”, which has some quirkiness all it’s own. Would you believe it reminded me a bit of Shakira? Well it does, which is either a good thing or a terrible tragedy, depending on your musical tastes. Seriously though, it does add another element to the album and rounds things off nicely, though I would have much preferred a more down beat track to end the album.

Conclusion : A wonderful, wonderful album, for a vocalist that has capture a special place in my collection. Sheer magic. Although this is the first artists reviewed in 2008, I can well imagine Chantal featuring on next years best of 2008.

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