Music

STITCHES AND INCISIONS ~ 2015
Allison clears away the rubble of bad luck and bad decisions to reveal the beautiful decay left behind as she tears down the walls of her evolving songwriting on her third record, “Stitches And Incisions”.  Sewing up five originals and three classics for an eight-song recording, “Stitches And Incisions” was recorded and co-produced by Andy Magoffin at the House Of Miracles in Preston, Ontario over sessions in May of 2013 and in June of 2015.

The title track, “All Our Emergencies” hops the chain-link fence into the abandoned Grace Hospital in Windsor, Ontario; where Allison’s own first breaths were drawn among generations of the area’s people, exploring the role of the now demolished building in the lives of the community and the scars left behind.  A delicate waltz between a triumphant superhero and a lazy evil arch-villain dance through “Your Enemy”, and love close enough to touch remains out of reach with an unrequited cross-border love song painted on the Detroit skyline in “Invisible Line”.  “Model Railroad Town” was inspired by a film of the same name by Graeme Bachiu, and brings us to a world only as big as a ping-pong table where time has stopped, but the train will always bring you back home.  “Scavengers” is an anthem to the junkman, scrapping the night away in the wilds of forgotten industry, and the precious metals found deep in the hearts of us all.  “Stitches And Incisions” comes to a close with three classic songs; Thomas A. Dorsey’s gospel blues “Standing By The Bedside Of A Neighbour”, Butch Hancock’s “Boxcars” howling through an arrangement that could have been played by the devil’s own bar band, and Percy Mayfield’s longing wish “Please Send Me Someone To Love” reflecting Allison’s recent exploration of the music of Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn.
    “the complete elixir I needed to feel many troubles melt away” ~ Roots Music Canada

An expert group of musicians joined Allison to bring the songs to life on “Stitches And Incisions”;  Marshall Bureau on drums, J.J. Ipsen on Piano, Wurlitzer and Hammond Organ, Jedd House on Upright Bass, the elusive Chris Crossroads on Banjo, and Vera Colley on Accordion.  Guitars provided by Scotty Hughes and Bryan Wright, and Lonesome Lefty on violin along with Martin Horak on additional violin, cello and harmony vocals.  Longtime tour-mate and accompanist Uncle Dan Henshall played mandolin. Photography by Mike Borgeault, album artwork by Shaela Kinting, and album design by Melissa Parrott.

Following the release of “Stitches And Incisions”, Allison embarks on a 95 day tour with over 50 performances as she moves into her faithful Dodge Grand Caravan, Merle.  Along with her brave mandolin accompanist, Uncle Dan Henshall, the duo will traverse Southern, Central and Eastern Ontario before touring the East Coast including Newfoundland, turning around and going across Highway 17 through Northern Ontario enroute to a Home Routes tour of House Concerts in rural Manitoba.  The pair will perform from pubs, taverns, cafés, clubs, house concerts, campgrounds, libraries, farmer’s markets, and streetcorners in exotic locations such as Hamilton, Toronto, Peterborough, Kemptville, Montreal, Ripples, Pouch Cove, Eganville, Wawa and many more.

-->
REVIEWS OF STITCHES & INCISIONS: 

Penguin Eggs Review; Spring 2016 by Barry Hammond
London Yodeller August 2015, Review By David Clarke
Hear + Now with Dan MacDonald:
https://soundcloud.com/am800-hear-and-now/hear-now-the-allison-brown-edition

Folk Roots Radio with Jan Hall ~ CFRU 93.3fm in Guelph ~ July 28th, 2015
Full Interview - 
http://folkrootsradio.com/interviews/allison-brown-stitches-and-incisions

London Free Press ~ James Reaney
http://www.lfpress.com/2015/07/15/reaneys-pick

One of the London music scene’s mainstays is getting ready to say goodbye to the Forest City.
Before she goes, self-described “roots songstress” Allison Brown has a parting gift to last. Brown launches her fine new album Stitches And Incisions at an Aug. 1 show at a London yoga studio.
“(It) has a lot of overdubbing, cutting and full-studio (treatment),” she said of the album.
Soon after, Brown — who has made major contributions off-stage in addition to her award-winning accomplishments as a performer — hits the road for a three-month tour.
When the tour is done, Brown expects to relocate to her hometown of Windsor and keep on making more good music.
“That’s what is happening . . . Dan (multi-instrumentalist Uncle Dan Henshall) is coming with me,” Brown said of the tour during Tuesday’s filming of this week’s Reaney’s Pick video.
While Brown is to resettle in the Windsor-area, Henshall will be back in London.
Brown and Henshall share a song from the new album, Invisible Line. “Love close enough to touch remains out of reach in the cross-border love song painted on the Detroit skyline,” Brown has said of the song. Like much of Stitches And Incisions, it was inspired by her life in Windsor. She has previously returned to Windsor before coming back to London during her career.
“It’s all Detroit, that one,” Brown said of Invisible Line.
“The record’s the big thing,” she said of her third album which was recorded and co-produced by former Londoner Andy Magoffin at the House Of Miracles in Cambridge-area Preston during sessions in 2013 and 2015.
True enough. The arrival of Brown’s third album — “a little more souped on” than her others, she allowed — is a big deal.
So is Brown’s departure. Her contributions off the stage include generous support of countless other musicians with her on-air (as the host of a folk- and roots-minded show) and administrative roles (as program director) at Western’s 94.9 CHRW radio station adding to her informal good works.
Brown stepped away from CHRW when her contract wound up. “It was really fun — but it kept me away from doing stuff like this,” she said of moving on to concentrate on her songwriting and performing.
“Allison did a fantastic job. It’s been great following in her footsteps. (There are) lots of technical improvements at the station we’ve been working on. Things are moving along well,” said Andrew Barton, who became CHRW program director on June 1.
Back to Stitches and Incision, an album which seems to be imbued with healing and sorrows experienced in her hometown, going all the way back to the old Grace Hospital, where Brown was born. It may be that Brown needed to make the record before reconnecting with Windsor in person.
The album has five Brown originals and three ace covers — from gospel icon Thomas A. Dorsey, R&B’s Percy Mayfield and Texas twang-master Butch Hancock. The covers fit the Windsor-themed mood.
Joining the auteur are an all-star team: Marshall Bureau on drums, J.J. Ipsen on keyboards, Jedd House on bass, Chris Crossroads on banjo and Vera Colley on accordion. Guitarists are Scotty Hughes and Bryan Wright. Lonesome Lefty is on violin with Martin Horak on violin, cello and harmony vocals. Longtime tour-mate and accompanist Henshall played mandolin, as he does on the Invisible Line video.
Brown is about to host her final CHRW shows in the next few weeks on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Post-tour, Henshall is to return to his show Tuesdays at 2 p.m.
Henshall also has a new recording of his own, Hard Times, a four-song EP.
“I have my fingers crossed it will be ready for Home County,” he said of this weekend’s fest at Victoria Park. Henshall will be one of the bluegrass-minded Thames River Valley Boys at the 2015 Home County Music & Art Festival.


“Viper At The Virgin’s Feet”

Independently Released May 15th, 2010

Produced By David Essig & Allison Brown

Folk ~ Roots ~ Songwriter ~ Country


                    Tempted to tread the dusty highway between light and darkness, joy and sorrow, faith and doubt, sunshine and rain; Allison’s second release “Viper At The Virgin’s Feet” reveals deep explorations of gospel and roots music surrounding originals forged from the fires of folk tradition.  The anticipated follow-up to 2005’s “Everything That Shined”, Allison narrowly escapes the devil’s teeth as “Viper At The Virgin’s Feet” snakes though twelve tales of heartbreak, stormy skies, fearless faith and a detour to cactus country.  Like a serpent in the garden, ominous undercurrents simmer beneath the surface of “Viper At The Virgin’s Feet”.  The album’s title track “Something Holy” sings through the eyes of a brave believer in an Appalachian rattlesnake handling church meeting, while “If I Was A Weathergirl” is a winsome languish inspired by real life TV News personalities.  Allison captures her inner outlaw translating Townes Van Zandt’s “Poncho & Lefty” and pays tribute to favourite songwriters Iris Dement and Patty Griffin on her way out of the desert.  “Uncloudy Day/Evenin’ Train” testifies Allison’s joyful devotion to revival, and “All The Birds” flies Allison out of the deep dark forest only to realize the journey is still at its beginning. 
           
Allison reunited with her musical mentor and producer of her 2005 release “Everything That Shined”, David Essig at his home studio on Protection Island, British Columbia for recording sessions that would bring Allison’s newest songs to life on record.  Followed by a month long solo Greyhound Bus tour, with guitar, ukulele and suitcase in hand, she returned to London with eight pearls from the ocean-side sessions.  Four more songs were added this winter from live off the floor sessions at Andy Magoffin’s House Of Miracles. 
            
The west coast band features Rick Scott (Pied Pumkin) on dulcimer, Tamara Little on high lonesome harmonies, Shelley Brown on upright bass, Trish Clair-Peck on violins, and David Essig’s artistry on a number of electric and acoustic guitars.  Recorded completely live from the studio floor, the Miracles sessions feature Jedd House on upright bass, Aaron Lozynsky on harmonica and acoustic guitar, Blair Heddle on mandolin, banjo and dobro, and Blair Whatmore on accordion.  Misguided angels Anna Atkinson and Erin Gignac flew in to provide viola, violin and choir-loft harmonies.  London photographer Mike Bourgeault captured the images for the album sleeve and John James Audubon’s “Common Mockingbird” was used with permission from the New York Historical Society for the album cover. 

“’Viper At The Virgin’s Feet’ fulfills the promise of her fantastic debut; it’s the Allison originals that are my favourites” ~ David Clarke, Scene Magazine

“a gorgeous voice that seemed too big for one person” ~ Barbara Bruderlin, B.C. Musician

rather obvious that she’s listened to a lot of great music and has let the timelessness of traditional music and generations of great artists inform her own songwriting and her wise choice to balance her repertoire with well-chosen traditional and contemporary folksongs” ~ Mike Regenstreif, Folk Roots/Folk Branches

“’All The Birds’ was the complete elixir I needed to feel many troubles melt away”~ Scott Vernon, Roots Music Canada

’Viper At The Virgin’s Feet’ offers an authentic rural flavour throughout and Brown particularly conveys a mature, confident delivery” ~ Andreas Gripp, CHRW 94.9fm

SCENE MAGAZINE ~ Review By David Clarke
Allison Brown Viper at the Virgin's Feet Indie

Even without the obvious bias since I work with Allison and have lived the ups and downs of this sophomore effort, “Viper at the Virgin's Feet” fulfills the promise of her fantastic debut. Recorded on the west coast with David Essig and here in London with Andy Magoffin with some of each areas finest musicians, the track selection spotlights Allisons' folk, country and gospel influences and though she is an excellent interpreter with covers of Townes Van Zandt, Patty Griffin and Iris Dement, it's the Allison Brown originals that are my favourites including “Something Holy” “The Nice Guy” and “If I was a Weathergirl”. Allison has an affinity for traditional songs and I must mention “Calling My Children” on which her true clear voice shines especially with the harmonies of her former “Rusty Halos” mates Erin Gignac and Anna Atkinson. You know her....it's great, what else do you need to know A prod A

CHRW Radio, 94.9fm ~ Review By Andreas Gripp
http://www.chrwradio.com

Allison Brown, Viper at the Virgin’s Feet (Independent)
Local singer/songwriter Allison Brown gives Londoners a fine parting gift with her new album, Viper at the Virgin’s Feet. Brown, who is leaving the Forest City for Toronto, offers an exceptionally crafted collection of folk and country songs, and produced by David Essig, this is her most memorable, polished record to date.

The disc begins brightly with “All the Birds” and moves easily into “If I was a Weathergirl,” a mid-tempo tune of longing accentuated by Brown’s catchy hooks and clever lyrics. The Gospel-tinged numbers “Something Holy” and “In My Time of Dying,” and the poignancy of “Pancho & Lefty,” showcase the diversity of styles and the wide vocal range that Allison Brown is able to present in this new release.

Viper at the Virgin’s Feet offers an authentic rural flavour throughout and Brown particularly conveys a mature, confident delivery in “Long Ride Home” while effortlessly slipping into a more pop vocal with “The Nice Guy” (accompanied by some gentle Spanish strumming).

“Our Town” would make a fine close to the record but listeners are treated to a bonus track, an alternative take on “If I was a Weathergirl,” and the overall strength of this album makes me wonder if Allison should head straight to Nashville and forego the T-dot stay, though after repeated hearings of Viper at the Virgin’s Feet, it’s clear her music should blossom anywhere.

FOLK ROUTES/FOLK BRANCHES ~ Review By Mike Regenstreif

ALLISON BROWN Viper at the Virgin’s Feet
Allison Brown allisonbrown.ca

Clear-voiced singer and songwriter 
Allison Brown – who should not to be confused with Alison Brown, the Nashville-based banjo virtuoso – spent several years hosting a folk music radio program (an activity I know something about) on CHRW in London, Ontario. Listening to Viper at the Virgin’s Feet, her second CD, it is rather obvious that she’s listened to a lot of great music and has let the timelessness of traditional music and generations of great artists inform her own songwriting and her wise choice to balance her repertoire with well-chosen traditional and contemporary folksongs.

Allison has a particular affinity for gospel music, an influence that you can hear with some subtlety in “All the Birds,” the original song that kicks off the CD, and more overtly in “Something Holy,” an original that she sings with the skill of a veteran bluegrass singer. She also applies that bluegrass approach to a fine version of “In My Time of Dying,” an African American gospel song from the repertoire of 
Josh White that Bob Dylan did on his first album. She also does a fine medley that moves from the white gospel tradition on “Uncloudy Day” to the black gospel tradition on “Evenin’ Train.”

My two favourite tracks on the CD are Allison’s versions of 
Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho & Lefty” and Iris DeMent’s “Our Town.” Both of these songs have had several classic interpretations and her versions stand tall among them. Producer David Essig’s lead guitar work and Rick Scott’s harmony vocals on “Pancho & Lefty” are a perfect touch. Her take on “Our Town,” to my mind DeMent’s best song, is simply lovely. --Mike Regenstreif


The Quickening Power ~ Barbara Bruederlin, January 14th, 2010

Viper at the Virgin's Feet
- Allison Brown


Allison Brown makes it all appear so effortless. She is blessed with one of those big voices that can fill a room and the sense to hold back from belting that voice up to the rafters with all her might.

In her new album, Viper at the Virgin's Feet, Allison Brown uses her gift wisely, imparting the primarily gospel and roots recording with a powerful yet smooth depiction. The album was recorded in two parts, a large portion at the island studio and under the tutelage of legendary producer, David Essig, and the remainder half a nation away in the heartland of southwestern Ontario, but the resulting recording has a beautifully cohesive feel. It's a compelling mix of original, traditional and cover songs, that showcases Brown's songwriting talents while paying homage to troubadours who have gone before.

It's the mixture of such solid original tracks as the sprightly All The Birds, the whimsical If I Was a Weathergirl and the darkly yearning Something Holy, amongst such standards as Towne Van Zandt's Poncho and Lefty, Patty Griffin's heartbreaking Long Ride Home and Iris Dement's Our Town, that makes Viper at the Virgin's Feet such a deeply satisfying album. Brown's treatment of the covers and the standards is respectful and faithful to the original, but she manages to impart her unique stamp through gutsy arrangements and a voice perfectly suited to the joy of a gospel hymn and yearning of a roots refrain.

There is something for everyone on this album - holy roller harmonies, wailing harmonica, plucky mandolin, weeping violin, quietly assertive bass. There is the quickening power of religion on the edge, the beautiful melancholy of aging and loss, bittersweet respect for bandits, and reminiscence for life's longings.

When I find myself playing this album, as I have been doing a lot lately, I always find myself singing along. For I have been moved.

Chris Jorgensen ~ Billings Gazette ~ February 25th, 2011

Allison Brown
“Viper at the Virgin's Feet”
Self-released

It can't be easy being country artist Allison Brown.

First, there's the other Alison (one L) Brown, the multiple Grammy-winning, Harvard-educated country artist.

And, while the one-L Brown plays the Grand Ol' Opry, the two-L Brown labors away at tiny joints like The Cup & Saucer in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, wherever that is.

It's a pity, because the two-L Brown deserves to be heard. She has a big, pure, voice that sounds straight out of the Ozarks, perfect for this folky throwback mix of traditional songs, modern covers and originals.

Public-domain gems like “In My Time of Dying” and the heartbreaking “Callin' My Children” get a straight-up reverent take, while “Uncloudy Day” appears with new lyrics.

Iris Dement's “Our Town,” Patty Griffin's “Long Ride Home” and Townes Van Zandt's “Pancho and Lefty” also get a turn.

Best of all here are Brown's originals, especially the opener, “All the Birds,” a pretty little song strung together with perfect, high lonesome female harmonies.

Brown is backed by a laid-back bunch of ace musicians, adding just the right support on mandolin, banjo, upright bass, dobro, fiddle and accordion.