After a six year break, Annabelle Chvostek's sixth album elegantly combines the rich Canadian singer-songwriterly tradition with the artist's East European heritage. She says: “This tapestry of interweaving cultural histories is very much tied to my own experience growing up in Toronto in an intercultural family, and raising my own daughter in two distinct cultural settings."
The songs were arranged and co-produced in Montevideo by long-time collaborator, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Fernando Rosa. Profiting from Rosa's list of contacts, a talented range of Uruguayan tango and classical musicians were assembled to create a mood that harks back to vaudeville cabaret and 1930s era jazz. Django Reinhardt's unique guitar style is also a key inspiration.
On the Canadian side, long-standing bandmate Tony Spina is back on drums alongside members of Toronto's vibrant Gypsy Jazz community. Overall, Chvostek describes the record as "a full interdisciplinary kaleidoscope of cross-continental expression."
Faced with major health issues including partial deafness and back problems, she has been forced into a slower and quieter pace of life of late. But there's nothing sluggish or downbeat about the opening two tunes - Je T'ai Vue Hier Soir and the title track both of which burst forth with life and energy and swing in great style.
There's humour too in the Tango-esque delights of Come Back, Just the Right Bullets and The Fool.
She covers Belleville Rendez-Vous which was sung by Matthieu Chedid (M) from the animated film 'Les Triplettes de Belleville' .
The quality of the musicianship throughout is simply spellbinding.
The first single from the album is Walls. This is the fruit of long gestation period and was co-written with Amy Katz, Chvostek confesses that the song ended up in a completely different place from where it started. It reflects a mood of loss and longing rather than dealing with specifics. Carlo Coronado directed a moving video that reflects the experience of living through a global pandemic in which we are connected yet divided at the same time.
In her work with The Wailin' Jennys , Bruce Cockburn and, above all, as a solo artist, I have come to depend on Chvostek to provide a rich musical mix combining sensitivity, humanity and political wisdom. This latest addition to her discography does not disappoint.