Be The Media
Be The Media may take some by surprise. After releasing two albums with Canada’s foremost folk label, Borealis Records, Annabelle has gone back to her independent roots, picked up a 1957 Kay electric guitar, and is releasing a new recording in collaboration with NY producer Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions, drummer Tony Spina and bassist Jérémie Jones.
Be The Media takes an unconventional approach featuring Beehive’s signature ‘live-off-the-floor’ feel. The songs were recorded live with the trio in a tight knit circle in the acoustic ambience of an old century home. Additional parts were recorded later in Montréal and Montevideo. Her 2008 album Resilience placed a meticulously crafted vocal style under the microscope. In this new album, Annabelle’s voice is given free reign to let loose with songs that express raw emotions and a groove that tends more towards rock’n’roll than conventional roots.
Nominated for a JUNO Award in 2013 - (Best Traditional Roots Album, Solo)
Indie music meets Occupy on Annabelle Chvostek's Rise, a rousing celebration of recent grassroots uprisings in Canada and around the world, complete with casseroles, a "peoples' chorus" and a cover of Peter Tosh's "Equal Rights".
Produced by ex-Rheostatic Don Kerr and mixed by New York-based Grammy and Oscar nominee (and ex-pat Montrealer) Roma Baran, along with her studio partner, Viv Stoll. It features guest vocals by Cockburn and Oh Susanna, guitars by David Celia, and percussion by Debashis Sinha of Autorickshaw and Minor Empire. Chvostek herself plays a lot of mandolin and fiddle on the album, often drawing driving, pulsating backdrops from these frequently-sweet-sounding strings.
Recorded in New York and Montreal with Grammy-nominated Canadian record producer Roma Baran and her producing partner Vivian Stoll, Resilience is a sublime, spare, and profoundly reflective album that Chvostek describes as "a big complicated hug."
The theme, as the title suggests, is resilience, with relationships often serving as a metaphor or jumping off point for looking at how human kind survives its own foibles and the resulting "craziness" of the world. "I Left My Brain," for example, is a crunchy alt.pop number about "heartache in a time of oil wars." "The Sioux" is a trad-influenced fiddle-driven piece about a country train ride to Northern Ontario and confronting the legacy of colonial occupation. The title track wonders at the human capacity to recover from heartbreak, while "Driving Away" sees Annabelle collaborating with Bruce Cockburn on a song about a fictional relationship that illustrates the aforementioned theme.
The sound of the album could best be described as "contemporary urban roots," a style in which acoustic instruments are front and centre, but in which strategically placed programmed beats and electro-acoustic elements wrap themselves gently and tastefully around the strings, at times building the sound to a subtle crescendo such as on the title track. In addition to Cockburn, guests include renowned alt.country artist Mary Gauthier on backing vocals, Ani DiFranco alumnus Julie Wolf on keyboard and accordion and multiple Juno nominee Michael Jerome Browne on assorted strings. Taken together, the innovative production values and insightful lyrics make Resilience a warm and enveloping album about the possibilities for change and redemption.
"This album provides a wakening of the senses, a truly awesome listening experience with fantastic musicianship, professionalism and talent" - Maverick, UK, Feb '09
Live From Folk Alley
Annabelle's first ever live release. It’s Annabelle solo, playing guitar, violin and mandolin, running through a setlist that includes hits like ‘Devil’s Paintbrush Road’, nuggets like ‘Madonna Loves Me’, heartfelt covers of ‘Equal Rights’ by Peter Tosh and the Velvet Underground’s ‘Some Kinda Love’.
The performance is recorded with crystalline clarity, and puts the listener front-and-center at a dream concert. Chvostek’s understated guitar virtuosity is especially in evidence, as is her extraordinary voice. Live from Folk Alley is an exquisite snapshot of one of North America’s finest folk artists.
Recorded on the performance stage at BluSeed Studios, an arts center in Saranac Lake, New York, the set was produced by Linda Fahey and Jeff Oehler for Folk Alley. FolkAlley.com is a music website maintained by the good people at WKSU-FM of Kent State University in Ohio.
"This will make you want to see her live for yourself"
- The Telegraph, UK
"Chvostek's strength is frailty and power"
Burned My Ass
A six song EP. From the first ringing notes of "Devil's Paintbrush Road," the listener is struck by her intense immersion in some of the oldest musical traditions on the planet.
She reinvigorates folk forms from Eastern Europe, from the high lonesome cadences of bluegrass country, and from the ironic, canny self-mockery of old school music hall and vaudeville. And in the tradition of Canadian singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, she's made these musical forms her own. The result is a collection of incandescent songs on the universal themes of love, desire, betrayal and remorse ... a stripped down solo effort that plumbs the depths and scales the heights of emotion with complete, raw honesty.
"Tell me if I've risen to grace and my heart is alive ..."
Currently out of print.
Like an instant shot of optimism, Annabelle Chvostek's Water delivers songs steeped in joyous lived experience. Backed by some great acoustic musicians drawn from Montreal's jazz and cabaret folk scene, Chvostek combines seductive hooks with a sensual musical intricacy, and heady lyrics that leap from the personal to the political to the universal in an edgy metaphysical style. Her sparkling vocals and guitar work speak to a generation grappling with a vast and shifting landscape of environmental, political and social forces. Chvostek is willing to ask the hard questions, and seeks the truth with a grace of intent that always electrifies her audience.
"Mesmerising. Incredibly poetic. Water is a rewarding experience and is almost as necessary as water itself is." - Anna Maria Stjärnell, Luna Kafé E-zine, Europe
"Fiercely talented. Chvostek has a sultry voice you can't and won't forget" - Suzy Malik, Xtra, Toronto
"Annabelle doesn't fake the folk. She freaks it." - T'Cha Dunlebvy, The Montreal Gazette