Crabtree & Mills | Flight of Fancy

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Blues: Blues Vocals Folk: Modern Folk Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Flight of Fancy

by Crabtree & Mills

Folky blues, twisted love songs (old and new)red-hot fingerpicking - even some sensitive country ballads - and the vocal blend is oh so smoooth .
Genre: Blues: Blues Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Flight of Fancy
3:27 $0.99
2. Put Me First
3:53 $0.99
3. Across the Borderline
4:16 $0.99
4. I Love to Love
4:04 $0.99
5. Do Right Daddy
3:05 $0.99
6. Too Old to Die Young
5:05 $0.99
7. Oh Susanna
4:16 $0.99
8. Miss Otis Regrets
3:47 $0.99
9. Love is the Lesson
4:17 $0.99
10. Gambler
4:16 $0.99
11. Somewhere in the Middle
3:24 $0.99
12. To Keep My Love Alive
3:19 $0.99
13. What Else Can I Do?
3:41 $0.99
14. J.J.'s Lullabye
3:54 $0.99
15. If I Had Any Pride Left at All
6:49 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Joanne Crabtree and Paul Mills, known individually as pioneers in Canadian roots music, teamed up early in 2006 to produce a CD showcasing her warmly vibrant voice and his playfully elegant guitar. Now regularly performing as Crabtree&Mills, Joanne and Paul are excited and proud to present their CD, Flight of Fancy, to the world.

As Flight of Fancy was taking shape in the studio, Crabtree&Mills played a series of concerts before sold-out houses in Toronto. The music they made was so exciting, and the chemistry between them so strong, folks stood up and cheered.

Paul says, "I love playing with Joanne. There's a great sense of fun and musicality in everything we do. The material she brings to the duo is always interesting and stretches me as a guitarist."

Joanne says, "On stage and in the studio with Paul, I feel as if I've come home. Our musical styles fit hand in glove. Whether the song is a clever Cole Porter standard, or one of our own compositions, Paul's sparkling and mischievous playing encourages me to put my heart and soul into every note I sing".
Toronto Star Review

“The second duet recording by Canadian folk music boomers, singer/guitarist Joanne Crabtree (formerly Joanne Hindley-Smith) and primo picker/producer Paul Mills is a warm and friendly confluence of vintage song and old-guard spirit. The generous all-acoustic package offers six Crabtree originals, a couple of traditional pieces and a selection of covers ranging from Stephen Foster's "Oh Susannah" to Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets", from Ry Cooder's and John Hiatt's "Across The Borderline" to contemporary compositions by rustic recidivists Kevin Welch and Keiran Kane. While the set contains few spine-chilling musical moments (Mills' understated and graceful work on the Porter piece is one, as is his trademark "New York-style" fingerpicking on other key cuts), it's clear these two artists complement each other well, and are very comfortable exploring their shared passion for the tuneful, light-hearted and sentimental folk and jug-band music of their youth. Crabtree & Mills launch their sophomore effort tonight with a concert at Hugh's Room (, tickets $18 at the door). If their sold-out show there several months back is anything to go by, this will likely be one of the year's big Canadian roots music moments,”

- Greg Quill, Toronto Star

From the Flight of Fancy liner notes:

Joanne Says:

Sometime in the early nineties, I first heard Paul Mills play live, and my life flashed before my eyes. Paul had perfected the "New York" style of finger picking that had so influenced my own development as a folk performer. I felt an immediate kinship, a kind of coming home. In 2000, we began a CD together, and a labour of joy and merriment it turned out to be. Paul's guitar is everywhere on the All The Good Times album, and six years later, I still feel a thrill listening to his work, especially on the Ruth Etting classic, Ten Cents a Dance.

It was on Ten Cents that we found a real meeting of minds.

In 2004, I pitched Paul the concept for a CD featuring a series of stripped down pop duets between my voice and his guitar. By January 2006, the idea had taken root and soon we had our playlist - three classic pop songs, half a dozen covers that touch our hearts, and several originals, including one we wrote together. We said we'd call the record Crabtree&Mills, but by the time production was underway, we had formed a duo called Crabtree&Mills, and the CD had become Flight of Fancy.

Paul Says:

What started as a professional relationship (me as producer and Joanne as artist) has evolved into a more collaborative effort. Joanne brought a richly varied repertoire to the project and allowed me the freedom to interpret the songs instrumentally. The result was a wonderful marriage between her voice and my guitar

This was clearly a duet. The repertoire Joanne brought to the project caused me to reach deeply into my abilities as a guitarist. The result, I think, is a celebration of our shared joy in the music we love as individuals. And the fact that the project has spurred Joanne into writing the best songs of her life is a precious bonus.

The production on the CD involves only the two of us and two of our talented sons (mine – Trevor, and Joanne’s – Edward) and the finished product closely represents what we do live. Joanne and I have been performing live as a duo since beginning this recording

We hope you enjoy our labour of love!

Peter Timmerman came to our show in Toronto last night, and this is what he wrote about it and Flight of Fancy: (October 7th, 2007)

Considerations of Flight of Fancy --

It was Sir Philip Sidney (or was it Castiglione?) who invented -- or let's say labelled -- the incredibly hard-to-define-but-you-know-it-when-you-see-it quality the Italians call sprezzatura, or casual grace. "Oh, this old thing?" Sir Phil says diffidently as you admire the Ming vase he keeps his toothbrush in. That sort of style.

Speaking of Ming Vases and toothbrushes, there is Flight of Fancy, the album by Joanne Crabtree and Paul Mills. It is not just that Joanne seems to have figured out how to channel Peggy Lee into her own writing (note, when push comes to shove, the salacious deftness sprinkled here and thereabouts); but there is also the filigreed excellence of the multiple styles tossed off by Paul -- "Oh, this old thing?"

Towards the end of her life, my mother who was once a professional tennis player, used to watch bigtime tennis on television, and amidst the bashing and grunting and cursing she would shake her head and say: "What ever happened to real tennis?" And then she would answer herself and say: "It only survives in mixed doubles". Only there could one still find the deftness, the mutual strategic understanding, and a little of that lost classic elegance. Every time I see or hear Crabtree and Mills I think: mixed doubles. She serves, he volleys; he serves, she volleys; they move in and out of each other's strengths, and together they are the top of the game.

For a couple of for instances, consider "I Love To Love" and "To Keep My Love Alive". These classic Tin Pan Alley numbers, in the "Birds Do It, Bees Do It, Let's Fall In Love" tradition, are witty and sassy and smart and really hard to sing properly. They require timing and pace and articulation and a certain sly cunning to keep them from becoming just one more joke after another. If you have ever heard "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" sung by a road company production of "Kiss Me Kate", you will have some idea of how bad this sort of thing can get. For some idea of how good this sort of thing can get, I give you Joanne's version of the style. Notice the big stuff: how in "I Love To Love" she and Curly Boy not only bat the conversational ball back and forth, but they hold the arc of the song in the palms of their hands. Or notice the small stuff: "I've got me a hobby, my hobby is -- man." Man!

Wonderful as these songs are, they are still more or less in the foothills. "Miss Otis Regrets" is right out there on the top of the mountain with no net and no tree to hide behind or be hung from. It is not hard to sing, it is total hell to sing. Singers with acrophobia (fear of heights) or agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) beware. This song can die more ways than a CSI case. Camp it up? Play it safe? Let it drag? Might as well put the tag on its toe and move it on brother.

On the other hand, Ms. Crabtree takes "Miss Otis" and like only a very, very few of her sisters in song paints it as a living, breathing life, whole and entire. Listen to the quality of her voice -- the velvet of "velvet gown", the strung up "strung her up", the momentary rasping lift in "lifted up her lovely head and cried." No regrets, madam.

I would remind you that so far on this album we are checking out other people's songs from a while ago. Turn to a song like "Put Me First" and one discovers the extent to which Joanne has absorbed the sassy part of the craft, and made it her own. But that is not all she can do. The more sober part of the craft -- the part that life alone teaches -- comes into its own in "What Else Can I Do?" and "JJ's Lullabye": songs about doing the ordinary devotional things, in a world filled with shameful things being perpetrated on an inhuman scale.

Throughout this dazzlement, Paul's guitar and production work exhibit their own casual grace (hand me that bottle of sprezzatura, barkeep). Articulation fine; punctuation perfect (Paul seems to be one of the few guitarists who can play semi-colons). Inevitable, sweet. Check out "The Gambler" for Exhibit A.

The album ends with "If I Had Any Pride Left At All". Somewhere along the line, the rituals of how to do concerts were laid down: end with a happy song, or if you can't do that, come back with something snappy for your encore. The two times I have heard Crabtree and Mills do this song at various points in their performances, it has completely stopped the show. Everyone in their own secret way falls apart at the power of it. I am amazed that when they finish the song, in the aftermath, everyone just doesn't turn to everyone else and shake their hands and say: "Well, that is what it is like to be human. Can it get said any harder than that?" and then all get up as one and go home, the job done for the night. The job of illuminating the human condition.

I guess that is not how it is done: but that is how it feels to me. It is fitting that "If I Had Any Pride Left At All" closes the album. At the very least you are maybe already at home and can cry behind your own curtains.

Of course, you could also fix yourself a double something and go back and listen to the fun stuff and the smart stuff and the sober stuff and basically just sit back and listen to this album all over again from the beginning. Nothing wrong with that. You could even pour yourself a mixed double something -- in homage.

- Professor Peter Timmerman York University Toronto Canada




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