She’s a singer from Montreal, Canada, but Julie Crochetière sits on the precipice of worldwide fame with her fourth, breakout solo album, “Counting Dreams [Vega Musique/DEP/Universal].” Hell, she may even lead her own music revival.
In a special May 2 preview show at Toronto’s Heliconian Club, Crochetiere left audiences in tears and on a high with her new contemporary pop songs. Afterwards, people uttered the words every artist longs to hear: “Soul igniting, touching, moving, lead me to tears.” And, the album hadn’t even come out yet.
It’s out now, released just this past Tuesday.
Not since Carole King’s 1972 hit album “Tapestry” has anyone ever heard such an overlap of styles with a lyrical ease and melodic flair that taps deeply into universal themes of love, loss, friendship and hurt. And not since Crochetiere’s 2007 Canadian hit song, “Precious Love” — from the cult classic, “A Better Place” — has anyone been able to so quickly and firmly get under the skin with the perfect blend of moving music and poignant lyrics.
The buzz surrounding this album is insane. When she dropped advanced downloads on iTunes back in March, the hits went off the charts. As studio machines chase assembly-line "American Idols" and auto-tuned Voices, the perfectly personal songs of Crochetiere’s “Counting Dreams” stand out in a crowd — even for her.
Practically born into the role of a made-for-TV pop baby (Sugar Jones, 2000), Crochetiere broke away from the mold due to the usual circumstances of a girl chasing the dream to be more than a studio version of a star. By 2008, with the release of the jazz-R&B album, “A Better Place,” she began to make that dream a reality. She dominated the Canadian music charts, the Canadian Radio Music Awards as an adult contemporary nominee, and snagged a “Best Female Vocalist” nod at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. Everybody North of the U.S. downloaded that album.
Get ready. It’s gonna happen again, but bigger this time.
Every song on this new album comes from Crochetiere’s blood, sweat, and tears — 10 years in the making and a major return to her singing/songwriting roots. Most of the songs are all hers. The one or two covers in there might as well be. She wisely included her signature Donny Hathaway classic, “For All We Know” — done with an entire string section — the one that brings the house down at every one of her gigs.
For one week in a Montreal studio last fall, Crochetiere, her rhythm section — keyboardist Joel Campbell, bassist Russ Boswell, percussionist Max Sansalone — and the Quatuor Orphée string quartet got down to the business of recording live off the floor. Crochetiere wanted to be still and let the songs tell their stories to her, nothing fancy, just truth pouring out.
“Simplicity is where the authenticity is. There’s truth there,” Crochetiere said. “… I knew I wanted to make something very spare, I wanted to hear the songs, but I also wanted to hear the air around the notes. There is always such a temptation to add another instrument, to stack another vocal, it’s like the arrangement is trying to seduce the song… ‘It’d sound great with horns, don’t ya think?’ But this record had its own voice…”
On May 14, the Toronto-based artist returns to Montreal for the homecoming of a lifetime. She’ll bring her entire “Counting Dreams” line-up — all the original musicians from the record — to Le Lion D’or on 1676 Rue Ontario Est for the official CD launch party. The Montreal “Counting Dreams” Spectacle-Lancement kicks off at 7 p.m. and lasts till 10 p.m.
Julie Crochetiere, or Julie C. as she’s known by fans, plans to perform the entire album with the musicians who recorded it with her. That means a full band and a string section: pianist Joel Campbell (Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Carole King), bassist Russ Boswell (David Wilcox, Serena Ryder, Holly Cole), and drummer Max Sansalone… Orphée string quartet’s Quisha Wint on background vocals (Jacksoul, Johnny Reid) and Tim Gowdy on sitar guitar (producer, “Counting Dreams”).
“I’m going home to Montreal to launch a CD that took me back to my roots, to my original love for melodies and powerful lyrics,” Crochetiere said. “I’m very excited! This whole record is a homecoming,” personally, emotionally, musically, and on May 14th, physically.