This, Chantal’s fifth album, is another consistent set of catchy pop tunes and Lilith Fair type piano led singer songwriter material. Albeit with a hint of jazz crooner thrown in here and there for good measure, particularly on the title track.
Songs wise this is undoubtedly Chantal’s weakest album to date. There is no ‘Surrounded’, ‘Before You’ or even ‘All I Can Do’ on here but it is still a good set of well written, and superbly sung tunes.
The problem that Chantal has is that her first two albums “Under These Rocks and Stones” and “Colour Moving and Still” were absolutely perfect peices of pop/singer songwriter brilliance and when you start off that well it is really difficult to raise the bar. Subsequently her releases since have struggled to get out of the shadows of them.
I have to say that the title of this album doesn’t sit comfortably with me as Chantal Kreviazuk is quite clearly no plain Jane. The idea behind the title according to Chantal is that she lives something of a double life. Well known and enjoying superstar status in her native Canada and being able to wander around the supermarket as an ‘ordinary wife and mother’ in California where she now resides.
“Plain Jane” itself can probably be split into two with the typical Chantal songs such as ‘Invincible’, ‘The Way’, ‘Ordinary People’ and ‘Say the Word’ on the one hand and the more experimental numbers such as the jazz like ‘Plain Jane’ and ‘5000 Days’ and the African tribal chant of ‘Namiso’ on the other. The acoustic guitar driven ‘Half Way Around The World’ is another track worthy of note.
All of the material here is either penned by Chantal alone, who has written for the likes of Avril Lavigne among others in the past, or in collaboration with husband and producer, Our Lady Peace frontman, Raine Maida with the exeption of ‘Namiso’ which was written with the family nanny Bibiane Mpoyo and ‘Kerosene Lamp’ with Brett James. Musician wise there are a host of talented session players on board as well as Maida playing the acoustic guitar and an appearance by Chris Botti on the trumpet.
All in all then another good solid release from an extremely talented artist who is far from a ‘Plain Jane’ musically, vocally or otherwise.
© Martin Leedham. Originally published on RYM October 2010