Interview by Joe Montague
learned along the way that organization is key, key, key, because then you allow
yourself to relax, and be in the moment,” says Emilie-Claire Barlow one of
The past year has been
perhaps the most successful of the singer’s career, as two of her albums, the
and her current project
The Very Thought of You,
kept jockeying between first and second place on the I-Tunes Canada jazz charts,
during December of 2007.
The Very Thought of You
has remained in I-Tunes Canada’s top ten jazz purchases since its release. On
SoundScan a tool used to measure retail sales, and one on which the Billboard
Charts are based,
The Very Thought of You,
has remained in the top twenty sales in Canada for jazz.
During the Christmas season last
December, Barlow made her first tour of
When Barlow performed before her Japanese fans, she adopted the attitude, “Songs like “Winter Wonderland,” are all swing tunes, and their form is that of a jazz standard. It was natural to look at them in that (light). I sang a song about summer, and I looked at it in the same way. To sing them and really feel the lyrics was just like singing “Autumn Leaves.” We were singing the things that we did last summer, only this time it was winter.
Although this may have been
Barlow’s first tour of
Barlow talks about her Japanese tour, “The thought of the language (differences) was a little daunting at first, because I do like to chat on stage, and tell the stories behind the songs. I wondered if when I told silly jokes, there would just be the sound of crickets. (she laughs) I also wanted to make sure that I was just being myself and that I was not getting too caught up in (the language differences).”
Winter Wonderland and
Thought Of You distributed in
As the title track, “The Very Thought of You,” opens her CD, it is abundantly clear that Emilie-Claire Barlow is anything but a minimalist. Barlow’s phrasing is emotive, smooth, and effortless, as she is accompanied by Nancy Walker’s elegant piano playing, Kieran Overs’ gentle bassline, and is serenaded by Kevin Turcotte’s flugelhorn. Barlow’s songs have many wonderful layers, and as you peel them back, you appreciate just how carefully this album was put together, and how talented she is, as both an arranger and singer.
Barlow says that while she was in the studio recording
“The Very Thought of You,” I knew that something good was going on, while I was
still singing it. It was not just about my vocal performance, but it was with
the whole track. Sometimes I can agonize over tempos, but the tempo is perfect
on this track. I had the lights down in the studio, I sang it through, and I
felt that I gave it my all. It was nice to listen back and hear that coming
She reaches back to 1947, for her second track, a
Frederick Loewe / Alan Jay Lerner tune, “Almost Like Being In Love,” and
although she is too humble to say this herself, Barlow’s interpretation of the
song ranks up there with any of the great singers who have previously recorded
Barlow who lives west of
Continuing along the same line for a moment longer, Barlow says, “I am not writing my own material right now, maybe I will someday, but when I sit down to write something (I find) a Cole Porter tune, or a Gershwin tune, and they are way better than anything that I am going to write. I like the idea of trying to take these songs that have been done, and adding my own special twist to them. I think that I have managed to do that with some of these songs.”
One of the songs that Barlow put a new twist on was “Pennies From Heaven,” from the CD The Very Thought Of You. “I was very proud of that arrangement, and I thought it was different. I reharmonized it and did it as a samba groove. I took a very different and fresh approach to that tune. I had the melody (to “Pennies From Heaven”) running through my head, and it sounded like a tune that I could approach in a Latin way. The arrangement also features a wonderful flute solo by Bill McBirnie.
Barlow also created a new
arrangement for the
Barlow combines into one track the songs, “My Time of Day,” and “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” from Guys and Dolls, a musical that Barlow confesses is one of her favorites. “When I was in the studio, I thought, ‘I’m not sure about this one,’ but when I decided to write a string arrangement for it, then it came to life for me.” Strings arrangements play a big for the CD The Very Thought of You, with no less than five violinists, two violists and two cellists contributing to the textures and beautiful colors.
Barlow demonstrates her versatility as an artist, when
she sings the fourth track, "Les Yeux Ouverts (Dream A Little Dream Of Me)," and
“C’est Si Bon,” entirely in French. With the former song, she once again
utilizes the string section to great effect, and on the later tune tenor
saxophonist, Mike Murley provides a great accompaniment and an even better solo.
No song appears to daunting for Barlow as she lends her emotive vocals to
singing Joao Gilberto's "De Conversa Em Conversa," in Portuguese. She delivers a
brightly colored and beautiful interpretation.
There is nothing pretentious or overly technical about Barlow’s vocals, she is able to strike an incredibly beautiful balance and vulnerability with songs such as, “The Boy Next Door,” and becomes the playful lover on Winter Wonderland, as performs the duet, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” with Marc Jordan.
Emilie-Claire Barlow has already
had a very successful career in
Interview by Joe Montague, all rights reserved,
protected by copyright © 2007
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Interview by Joe Montague, all rights reserved, protected by copyright © 2007 Return to Our Front Page