Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chantal Kreviazuk – Hard Sail [album review]

Released on June 17th

A focus on family, her longtime dedication to a number of causes (including education, human rights, the environment, and mental health), and a busy and successful career as a songwriter for other artists (such as Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Britney Spears, and Drake) have left a seven year gap between studio albums for Winnipeg-born Chantal Kreviazuk. Hard Sail marks her sixth studio release.

Kreviazuk’s classically trained piano skills are front and centre on Hard Sail’s quieter moments, which dominate the album’s back half. “Snowing In The Desert” is one of Kreviazuk’s best pieces of work yet, with her piano accompanied by swelling strings and a standout vocal performance from the musician (including her effective background and harmony vocals). “Lost” and “I Love You” are also particularly strong, as Kreviazuk draws upon an undisclosed recent traumatic event in her life as the lyrical inspiration for the songs. Two-minute-long album closer “Smile In Your Sleep” — a lullaby to one of Kreviazuk’s kids — represents Hard Sail’s only notable dip in quality.

“Into Me” and “Meant For This” are the most obvious nods to the musician’s early-career mid-tempo songcraft. A modern pop production edge adorns the excellent title track, “Ticklish”, the ridiculously catchy “All I Got”, and the potent “Vicious” (which could easily be mistaken for a Florence + The Machine song).

Kreviazuk may be entering the third decade of her career and get labelled as an adult contemporary artist, but she proves once again on Hard Sail that she can balance the safer, more traditional elements of her sound with some ambitious risks that sound fresh and stand high amongst her catalog of work.

Rating: B+

Related posts: my October 2009 review of Kreviazuk’s Plain Jane album