Annabelle Chvostek Ensemble – Rise

Annabelle Chvostek RiseRise, is a rousing celebration of recent grassroots uprisings in Canada and around the world – complete with casseroles, a “peoples’ chorus” and a cover of Peter Tosh’s ‘Equal Rights’.

Annabelle Chvostek is a Montreal artist, who went on to write chart-topping roots songs and play New York’s Town Hall as a member of the Wailin’ Jennys. , Chvostek now shows off a whole other side of her musical personality on Rise as compared to 2008’s Resilience – the album that introduced her fearless innovation and beguiling indie folk sound to a massive, post-Jennys audience.

Where Resilience was a plaintive album that showcased Chvostek’s originality in contemplating matters of the heart, Rise is joyful, anthemic, and unabashedly political, revealing Chvostek’s passion for social justice work and musical activism. Call it protest music for the indie generation or a soundtrack for the Maple Spring.

‘End of the Road’, is a veritable block party of an opening track that conveys Chvostek’s glee at seeing thousands of people finally rising against injustice. ‘Rise’ is a soaring, heartfelt call to arms to defend an abandoned meadow in Montreal’s Mile End – a privately-owned but publicly-claimed gathering place where locals have taken up “guerilla gardening” and graffiti artists have made a canvas of nearby concrete. ‘Do You Think You’re Right’ is a response to the documentary Jesus Camp that may never have made the album if not for Bruce Cockburn. And ‘G20 Song’ is a seething chronicle of events that welcomed Chvostek home to Toronto when she moved back from Montreal in 2010. The Eastern European “vibe” – which turns up on several tracks on the album – is inspired by Chvostek’s work on the soundtrack forTransition, Tamara Vukov’s documentary about factory workers in post-war Serbia.

Of course, not all the numbers on Rise have explicit activist undertones. Some celebrate simpler pleasures than the electrifying spirit of street protest. ‘Ona (In Toronto I Get More Hugs, In Montreal I Get More Kisses)’, for example, is a quirky, uplifting, and lovable little ditty, feting the differences between Montreal, Toronto and New York.

Rise was produced by ex-Rheostatic Don Kerr and mixed by New York-based Grammy and Oscar nominee (and ex-pat Montrealer) Roma Baran, along with her studio partner, Viv Stoll. It features guest vocals by Cockburn and Oh Susanna, guitars by David Celia, and percussion by Debashis Sinha of Autorickshaw and Minor Empire. Chvostek herself plays a lot of mandolin and fiddle on the album, often drawing driving, pulsating backdrops from these frequently-sweet-sounding strings.

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Artist web link: www.annabellemusic.com