CD Review: Crissi Cochrane “Pretty Alright”

Posted: November 17, 2011 by Windsor Zene in CD Releases, CDs, Previews, Reviews

Crissi Cochrane, Pretty Alright (2011)

When Halifax indie pop songstress Crissi Cochrane left Halifax, Nova Scotia – an internationally recognized port of music and song – for little ol’ Windsor – an internationally ignored city of unrecognized talent – there were many in the city and scene who collectively scratched their heads and wondered if perhaps she had been grossly misinformed on Windsor or perhaps was on some sort of narcotic that perhaps we should all be trying.

But as it turns out, her move was a labour of love, as she was the significant other to Michael Hargreaves, the singer/guitarist from Windsor’s kings of Pop, Michou (and Canada’s according to a recent XM Radio awards ceremony). She switched the countless bars and unheard voices of the Maritimes for the countless bars and unheard voices of Windsor, easily fitting in with her honest story telling and hard work. Shortly after her arrival, she co-founded an open mic/arts & crafts bazaar at The FM Lounge, and immediately won over an often fickle music scene with some fantastic pop folk songs that showed a story telling beyond her years.

This Friday, Crissi Cochrane returns to the FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level) to release her latest EP, Pretty Alright, a six-song tale of the the many faces of love produced by Michael Hargreaves and Crissi herself and mastered by another Michou members, Stefan Cvetkovic

The beauty of Crissi’s songs – shown in glorious brilliance on these songs – is that she is the person that many past singers almost became. She has the grit we’d hoped Lisa Loeb would eventually develop, the complexity that we’d hoped Holly McNarland might garner, or the true love that Cat Power may one day find. Now I’m not suggesting she’s writing songs better than any of these, it’s just that this feels like what many of them may have missed.

The lead chapter – as this almost feels like a love story being sung rather than read – is entitled “I Won’t Try To Break Your Heart” and swings in right away and warms you up. It introduces you the smiling cheerful girl who is in the middle of a conversation with a lover who is obviously not making the same efforts as she is. She’s offering up her heart to her would-be suitor, proclaiming her hopes, wants and desires and her promise that she “won’t try to break your heart” but that she  “didn’t come here to play games”. There’s still a hint of Halifax in her voic and style, a faint ghost of the Maritime “sound”, that makes her story telling all the more believable. This is the only track not produced by the Hargreaves/Cochrane tandem, instead handled by former Yellow Wood songwriter Adam Rideout-Arkell. Cvetkovic guests on the drums and Curtis Perrin and Stefan Seslija add some deliciously tasteful horns.

“Oh, how badly I need an anchor,” the second chapter – “Go” – begins, “the shorelines fading fast.” The girl in the story displays immense strength in a slower song that seems to deal with the companion’s contemplation with leaving the relationship. The protagonist cements her convictions and tells the other one that quite simply, if they can’t take the person she is, then perhaps he should just go.

The third chapter – “Drive All Night” – falls out of the story and seems to be an open love letter from Crissi to Michael. It’s the lovelorn tale of a girl missing her boy as he’s out on the road away from home for stretches at a time – something Crissi endured many times the past year or so with Hargreaves’ Michou touring the country for long stretches of sometimes weeks at a time (Crissi would get somewhat of her own back with her own East Coast tour a few months back). A tender song about how sometimes the longing can be as sweet as the moments together. Local songbird Jackie Robitaille guests on backing vocals for this one.

“Never Will” catches us up with the protagonist from the first two chapters. But picture that while he left the apartment, she’s decided to move to another city. Time passes by and over time the fights seem overblown, the wounds perhaps exaggerated and the good times reflecting even more. But now, every now and then, she thinks of him. “I know, we never really talk, and probably never will,” she muses aloud. “I hope it’s all for the distance…” A gorgeous song.

In the fifth chapter, “Fine”, she’s returned to her hometown to confront him and is immediately torn by the obvious chemistry she has with him but by the sudden rush of the inadequacies that the relationship had at the end. “I have no doubt, it’s just you and the rest I could do without,” she tells him one night in a darkened park. “Now it’s only time, before I’m yours and you’re mine, and everything will work out…fine.” Another tear jerker that shows what the power of a complete story can do. It will entice you more to keep listening to a complete record rather than skipping to the next “hit” single.

The final chapter is a gorgeous outro highlighted by some delicately powerful musical nuances, from sweet sounds to rhythmically entrancing guitar, building a mesmerizing bed of sound for Crissi to tell the final tale over. Entitled “The Needle”, it tells the tale of our heroine finally realizing her own strength and her conviction in herself. She recognizes things can she cannot fix (“Nothing lost and found is ever new again”) to enjoying the simple things in life to perhaps even falling in love again (“I got some errands that I’d better do, see you tomorrow, yeah, sure, I’ll call you…”). A beautiful closer to a great wave of storytelling.

Now, I’m pretty sure this album wasn’t actually supposed to pan out like a connected love story and it probably isn’t. But hey – I just a found a stash of those crazy narcotics that brought her to Windsor and that’s what it felt like to me. But regardless of the connection, this is one heck of a collection. If you’re already a fan of Crissi Cochrane, then this recording will not surprise you. You knew she had this in her. You knew it was coming. If you’ve never experienced her, this is a great starting point. She’s only going to get better.

Crissi Cochrane, Pretty Alright EP Release Party with special guests Michael Hargreaves and Mary Stewart, Friday November 18, The FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level)

  1. nbroadie says:

    Great Review of a great CD!

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