Danielle French | Piece

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CANADA - B.C.

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Folk: Folk Pop Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Piece

by Danielle French

Danielle's style ranges from intimately accessible to passionately agressive to strangely quirky. Her 2003 CD release 'Piece' is backed by a stellar cast of support musicians including Burton Cummings (from The Guess Who).
Genre: Folk: Folk Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. As the Crow Flies
4:13 $0.79
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2. Till We Meet Again
5:32 $0.79
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3. Howard's Song
3:43 $0.79
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4. Fade Away
2:57 $0.79
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5. To the Death (featuring guest vocalist Burton Cummings)
2:37 FREE
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6. Running Up That Hill
4:33 $0.99
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7. Yellow Boat
4:56 $0.79
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8. Not a Moment Too Late
4:17 $0.79
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9. I Will Not Fall
3:40 $0.79
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10. Simple Pretending
3:36 $0.79
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Danielle French ~ Piece
Bio

The heaps of praise bestowed upon Calgarian singer/songwriter Danielle French make perfect sense the first moment you hear Piece, her 2003 CD release. Sweet, plaintive vocals, laden with emotional immediacy, soar above a lush background built by stellar musicians -- instantly elevating you into the stratosphere where Danielle’s crystal-clear voice resides. It’s evidence, like all of Danielle’s recorded works, that Piece is a lovingly crafted work of art, deserving the national airplay it has received.

Mixed at Alberta’s prestigious Banff Centre by John Sorensen (The Rolling Stones, Beck...), Danielle’s collaborative cast includes noteworthy names like Burton Cummings (on the gloomy, doom-weighted duet “To the Death”), Don Kerr (ex-Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith), Paul MacLeod (The Skydiggers) and Luke Doucet (Veal). This, at first, may seem like mere name dropping, but those who are neck-deep in Canada’s vibrant musical scene have been quick to line up in support of Danielle ever since 1995 when members of Spirit of the West, Lava Hay and Blue Rodeo, as well as Matthew Good and backing musicians for Sara McLachlan and Barney Bentall, helped on Danielle’s 1995 debut me, myself & i.

Danielle has coupled her well-spent studio time with a relentless work ethic. Constantly touring across Canada and the United States (for three years she literally lived in her mint green, flowery-curtained Dodge Maxivan!), she’s opened for (surprise!) another who’s who list of performers including Burton Cummings, Holly Cole, The Barenaked Ladies, Mae Moore, Melanie Doane, and Lawrence Gowan.

The fruits of those labours are readily visible. She’s been personally invited onto Rita MacNeil’s hit CBC show Rita and Friends, welcomed onto the Calgary leg of Lilith Fair, and was nominated for an AMPIA Award for “Best Song in a Soundtrack” and has garnered several songwriting awards. She’s appeared on the now famous Grrls with Guitars compilation CD and co-wrote “Matthews Birds” with Jenny Allen, which appears on the highly acclaimed Till We Have Faces CD by The Fates, Danielle has also produced videos for “Worthy” and “Scarlett Wishes”, both seeing rotation on MUCHMusic.

Her undying allegiance to film and theatre culminates in a myriad of ambitious undertakings including her release of Piece as part of the Solocentric Festival, co-produced in Calgary with the nationally-renowned One Yellow Rabbit theatre company. And in 2004, Danielle launched the world premier screening of her first short film, Avalon, at the Mutton Busting Festival as part of One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo. Set to one of her original songs of the same name, Avalon represents a true collaborative effort, blending the artistic genres of music, dance (choreographed by Anitia Miotti) and film (shot by well-known Canadian artist/filmmaker Allan Harding MacKay). Avalon has gone on to enjoy screenings at Theatre Junction’s Random Acts Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival and the Herland Festival. Danielle was also one of the musical acts chosen by the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers’ $100 Film Festival to produce a Super 8 film to one of her songs, “Fade Away” which was screened at the festival while she performed the soundtrack live.

Additionally, Danielle has been involved in several cross-genre initiatives, including writing music for Vertigo Mystery Theatre’s 2004 production of Innocent Blood and her song “To the Death” was featured in the original One Yellow Rabbit/ Plaid Tongued Devils production of In Klezkavania. She has performed in many guises during various High Performance Rodeo events including co-writing and performing in The Last Six Minutes of Elvis with Calgary poet Kirk Miles; a performance at Denise Clarke’s Sky High Cabaret; a guest appearance at Chris Cran’s Camera Obscura; and performing with local theatre group Obscene But Not Heard during their 10 Minute Play Festival entry of a play written in 24 hours called Udder Madness.

Thanks to a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Danielle is currently, working on her third CD, with an anticipated release before the summer of 2006. In the spring of 2006 she will be dividing her time between Calgary, Alberta and Reno, Nevada in order to tour more consistently.

It’s obvious that music, for one who oozes creativity from every pore, is just part of the overall tapestry of expression that is Danielle's life. If you haven’t seen Danielle command the stage (in one of her trademark flower-print polyester dresses - where does she find them all?) you now have a mission.

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Reviews


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Canadian Music Magazine

Danielle French is possessed of a diverse and slightly surreal talent.
Cruising through the ether with fellow artists like Jane Siberry, singer Danielle French is possessed of a diverse and slightly surreal talent. Piece is her second album (her debut, me, myself & I, was released in 1995), written and recorded over the course of four years and finally released in 2003. Produced by French with help from Chris Brett, the album has a wide-open sound, with loose arrangements and soaring vocals, drawing a line amongst all the obvious influences but creating a wholly original work.
Written between 1993 and 1998 by French, with the exception of a song from Howard Redekopp and a cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill", Piece features contributions from Burton Cummings (guest vocals on the moody To The Death), ex-Rheostatic Don Kerr on drums and Paul McLeod (the Skydiggers) on vocals. French has played an opening slot at Lillith Fair, appeared on television show Rita And Friends, won awards for her songwriting and even written, directed and danced in her own short film, Avalon. She has also recorded and toured as part of Grrrls with Guitars, and informal group that performs in a "songwriter-in-the-round" format and has released a compilation CD.
French often shows up for tours in her customized Dodge minivan, which she has converted into a camper. At last year's Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, NV, she pulled up, dropped green Astroturf, a mailbox and a white picket fence and puttered around in a housecoat all day, much to the delight of the assembled revelers of the ephemeral city. With her sense of humour, French is truly a strange and unique talent.

Credit: Rod Christie is a Toronto-based freelance writer.
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Umbrella Music

Danielle French 'Piece' demonstrates the work of a maturing, attractive voice
The woman is nothing if not diligent. And now, finally, she has released a follow-up record – is it back to life on the road for another eight years? If so, it would be a shame, because Piece demonstrates the work of a maturing, attractive voice; we need more records like this, not fewer.

Opening with the strong one-two punch of “As the Crow Flies” and “Till We Meet Again” (with it’s lovely “kiss it all away” refrain), French’s folky record announces itself with a confident authority. Her voice (strongly reminiscent of Dar Williams at times, closer to Tori Amos at others) floats on top of interesting, somewhat dense arrangements played by an impressive group of sidemen. Don Kerr’s (Rheostatics) drums provide the most stable of foundations for French’s often spacey melodies, anchoring her to a groove when she might be inclined to be a bit more free. This is a good thing, as is Burton Cummings’ rather unlikely vocal performance on the spooky, Klezmer-inflected “To The Death.” However, his low rumbling performance is to the Burton Cummings of the Guess Who era as “Love and Death” Bob Dylan is to the Freewheeling. Still, it never hurts to have a bona fide rock legend on your record…

An ill-chosen cover of Kate Bush’s semi-signature number “Running Up That Hill” is the only truly unfortunate moment here. Suddenly French ceases to sound independent, distinct, herself. Suddenly her voice has taken on the tone of an obvious hero, and channelled her so effectively as to come across as mimicry. It is a surprise, and affects the way one hears the rest of the record (which is, it should be said, not nearly as affecting as the first half anyway).

Still, fans of Kate Bush and Tori Amos, as well as of the New York folk circuit regulars such as Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky and Shawn Colvin, will find themselves well served by this mostly engaging record.

Stuart Henderson, writer
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Alva Reger

The long anticipated new release by Canadian artist Danielle French is amazing.
The long anticipated new release by Canadian artist Danielle French is amazing. Almost ten years in the making, it is a work rich with emotion and demonstrated with passion. With contributing artists by the likes of Burton Cummings, former Rheostatics percussionist/producer, Don Kerr, and Ontario singer/songwriter Paul Macleod, (to name a few) prove her songs are as varied and versatile as the artists that support her.

From the solid introductory track "As the Crow Flies", and the catchy and uplifting "Till we meet again," she has proven her ability as a strong songwriter. French also expands her creative versatility on the Burton Cummings duet "To the Death", vocal abilities on (my favorite) convincing interpretation of Kate Bushs’ "Running Up that Hill". I enjoyed all 10 of these songs. They kept my interest, and prompted me to press play again, and listen more intently each time.

For those of you in the know of Danielle's former record Me Myself and I, will no doubt be thrilled with Piece. For those not yet, this is an excellent place to start. Watch for show dates, she is as interesting and dynamic live as she is on disc. Impressive…
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Dan Brisebois

Danielle's hypnotic passion strikes you from the opening lines of Piece
This Calgary native is steadily making a name for herself across North America as one of the most refreshing takes on the pop scene in recent years. Melodic and well-thought out, PIECE is her third disc and it's putting a new face on the old traditions of modern music.

Over 3 years between albums has allowed her the time to grow as an artist and this could very well be her break-out. Her hypnotic passion strikes you from the opening lines of the lead-off "As The Crow Flies". The lyrics themselves are a gem, full of soul and emotion, indicative of the entire album. Danielle's influences are apparent and numerous, as a number of helping hands show up on the disc. Don Kerr (ex Rheostatics and Ron Sexsmith), Paul MacLeod of the Skydiggers and Jonathon Lewis of The Plaid Tongued Devils are just some of the who's who. But it's the cameo from legend Burton Cummings that naturally gets the most attention. One of Canadian pop's sleeper hits of the year is "To The Death", their sort of gypsy melody that provokes a second listening, then a third ... and so on ...

With the exception of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill", the album is a collection of original works that are a culmination of life experiences - personal and intimate, yet still broad appealing. With the Bush cover Danielle manages to stick with the original, yet still put her own mark on it, adding an even more haunting feel to a song that already bordered on brooding.

With John Sorensen (Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck) behind the controls, she's managed to capture an exceptional bit of pop, masterfully produced and sure to make labels take notice. Full of restrained vigor, it's cross-over between the pop and folk worlds is staggering. In fact, she's played a number of folk festivals in her career. She's showcased her talents on some of the biggest stages in North America, including an appearance at the 1997 Lilith Fair, opening for the likes of Gowan, Barenaked Ladies, Melanie Doane and Holly Cole and guesting on Rita McNeil's CBC variety show.

She's taken her time, making sure she got it right, a balladeer that takes her art seriously. She could very well be the next Arden, Siberry or McLaughlin. "Howard's Song" and "I Will Not Fall" both showcase an album full of highlights. Her ability to avoid the mainstream cycle but still gain credibility for her unique approach is rare and refreshing. This rising star's sky is the limit. Her world is her artistic backdrop. Pay attention ... you'll be hearing more from Danielle when the traditional stigmas come around to her way of thinking.
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