By the time Chantal Kreviazuk went into the Phase One Recording Studio in Toronto to record her second album she had married Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida and much of the angst and power of her debut album had been replaced with a softer, lighter and in places poppier sound. That is not to take anything away from it though as it is a superb collection of well crafted contemporary adult compositions with quirky little peices of pop frivolity here and there alongside some pretty deep and thought provoking lyrics. It may be a far different album than the first one but it is certainly not inferior for it.
Opening track ‘Blue’ starts with no musical introduction just the sound of Chantal taking a breath before launching straight into the vocal. A gentle acoustic guitar joins her almost straight away before the song builds into a pretty powerful yet still melodious track. Some nice piano and a great range of vocal dynamics make it a more than impressive start. Think Sarah McLachlan but a bit less ‘safe’ and with a huge chunk of power and dynamism thrown in. In fact it is a perfect bridge from the debut album “Under These Rocks and Stones” to what is to follow on the rest of “Colour Moving and Still”. ‘Dear Life’ is the first of the more poppier sounding tracks and was indeed one of the singles released from the album. Again Chantal’s vocal displays a great range of styles with some quirky use of melody. Like many of the tracks on offer here it is ridiculously infectious. The first of the slower numbers ‘Until We Die’ follows and is a great contrast to the quirky poppiness of what has just gone before. To begin with the vocal is soft and almost spoken until it builds into a full blown display of Chantal’s great range and phrasing ability. At its conclusion the track blends straight into ‘Souls’ which has a lengthy introduction before Chantal again veers effortlessly between a soft vocal and an almost operatic display of power.
‘Before You’ is an almost perfect peice of pop frivolity with a superb melody. It may be one of the most infectious peices of pop music I’ve ever heard. From its simple acoustic guitar opening to the understated solo to fade its just packed with everything needed to create the perfect pop song. Foot tapping, head nodding and singing along is not only compulsory it is totally involuntary.
The contrast is in evidence again with ‘M’ as the quirky pop melody is replaced with the melancholy melody that makes a song with a sad and thought provoking lyric just an absolute audible joy. Again, think Sarah McLachlan but with an edge. Starting the next track ‘Soul Searching’ with a couple of sexy chuckles displays why Chantal is streets ahead of the competition in this genre as you are never allowed to drift away from the music as it constantly grabs your attention with its continual change from quirky frivolity to serious adult themes. The only thing that never changes is the perfect delivery of the songs and the quality of the song writing and the melodies. ‘Far Away’ takes us back to a more commercial poppy sound before ‘Eve’ sees a return of the more structured slow burning thought provoking adult delivery of the likes of ‘M’ and ‘Until We Die’. The album closes with ‘Little Things’ which manages to perfectly blend the two main styles of the album into one for a pretty classy ending. Another infectious poppy chorus breaking up some great melancholy verses both with great melodies that perfectly highlight Chantal’s full vocal range and songwriting abilities.
The original Canadian issue also came with a bonus disc featuring three cover versions which she had contributed to film and TV soundtracks. John Denver’s ‘Leaving On a Jet Plane’ from the film Armegeddon. The Randy Newman track ‘Feels Like Home’ which was eventualy included on her following album and had been used on the soundtrack for Dawsons Creek and finally The Beatles track ‘In My Life’ which was the theme tune to the TV show Providence. All are pretty true to the originals, although the Denver track is a little slower and has more feeling to it than the original. Once again they all display Chantal’s great range and phrasing ability to the full.
All in all then “Colour Moving and Still” is a superb album of infectious pop tunes, quality contemporary singer songwriter songs and beautiful melodies. As a one two punch with the debut album “Under These Rocks and Stones” it is surely as good a start to a recording career as anyone has ever managed.
© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM April 2011