Annabelle Chvostek – String of Pearls
Format: Download – Stream
Release date: March 26, 2021
Annabelle Chvostek is a Juno-nominated singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose musical achievements range from folk to jazz to indie pop. She has composed music for dance and film, co-written songs with Bruce Cockburn, and was formerly in renowned roots trio The Wailin’ Jennys.
Annabelle’s upcoming sixth album String of Pearls brings together her Canadian singer-songwriter tradition and the nostalgia of her East European heritage with a long-standing connection to Uruguay, which began over a decade ago through her Uruguayan spouse. The songs were arranged and co-produced in Montevideo by long-time collaborator, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Fernando Rosa, who she met in 2008 and who recorded bandoneon parts remotely for her album Rise in 2012. On String of Pearls, Fernando gathered some of Uruguay’s stellar tango and classical musicians to add to a contemporary sound that harkens back to the grittiness of 1930s tango, vaudeville cabaret and swinging hot jazz. On the Canadian side, long-standing bandmate Tony Spina is back on drums alongside members of Toronto’s vibrant Gypsy Jazz community. Award-winning producer David Travers-Smith (The Wailin’ Jennys) works his magic in bringing together the Canadian and Uruguayan tracking to attain a uniquely diverse cross-cultural, cross-temporal sonic montage.
Born and raised in Toronto, Annabelle was immersed in Montreal’s eclectic arts scene in the 90’s and early 2000’s, performing regularly at Le Boudoir, a queer, feminist 1920s-inspired cabaret series, and self-releasing four full-length albums between 1997-2003. In 2004 Annabelle joined The Wailin’ Jennys and wrote four songs on the multiple award-winning album Firecracker, which was on the Billboard Bluegrass charts for 69 weeks, peaking at #2. After departing from the Jennys, she released the album Resilience (2008), produced by the Grammy-winning Roma Baran (Laurie Anderson) and Vivian Stoll, Rise (2012), co-produced with Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith), and Be The Media (2015), co-produced with Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions. Rise was nominated for a Juno Award in the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year category, and both Rise and Resilience were nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Annabelle also co-wrote two songs with Bruce Cockburn for his Juno-winning album A Small Source of Comfort (2011).
In 2015, Annabelle was forced into a slower and quieter pace due to a series of health crises, including an ongoing struggle with severe hearing loss and tinnitus in her left ear triggered by a feedback blast during a soundcheck in England in 2008. Determined to continue her artistic practice, she began exploring new ways to create music while coming to terms with her late-deafness. Supported by Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts, Annabelle became the artist-in-residence at Toronto’s community-based Echo Women’s Choir between 2016-18, where she developed her skills in choral arrangement, composition and conducting under the mentorship of choral directors, Alan Gasser and Becca Whitla. Her newly acquired skills helped enhance Annabelle’s vocal arrangements on songs from String of Pearls including the title track and her version of ‘Belleville Rendez-vous’.
In 2017, Annabelle played her first gigs in Montevideo with Fernando on bass and Arturo Chilindrón on drums. Annabelle’s music was well-received by Uruguayan audiences, inspiring the newly-formed ensemble to deepen their collaboration from within Fernando’s diverse musical community. Fernando’s arrangements for String of Pearls draw from Uruguayan tango and early jazz-inspired winds. His lyrical orchestral instrumentations on ‘Walls’, the first single from the album and ‘Halfway Through’ were inspired by Canadian producer Bob Ezrin’s work on Lou Reed’s Berlin and Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Combining Canadian and Uruguayan songwriting traditions with the nostalgia for eras gone by was a fascinating place for Annabelle, and she believes that there is an openness and desire for a diversity of cultural inputs within the world of roots music. “This tapestry of interweaving cultural histories is very much tied to my own experience growing up in Toronto in an intercultural family, and raising my own daughter in two distinct cultural settings. My experience is by no means unique, and I think the universality of this experience, a very Canadian one, will resonate with a broad audience across cultures and age groups. I think music has the potential to tap into an openness that allows us to listen to new perspectives in unconventional ways, and it is my goal as an artist to think and rethink the ways in which this could be possible.”
01. Je T’ai Vue Hier Soir
02. String of Pearls
05. D’être Humain
06. Come Back
07. Belleville Rendez-Vous
08. Just the Right Bullets
09. Halfway Through
10. The Fool
11. Firefly (You Just Love)
12. Baby Baby Baby
Website: Annabelle Chvostek