Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Sometimes it becomes painfully obvious that when I am constantly on the lookout for new bands, I forget about ones I like. Case in point? Vancouver's Christa Couture was someone I stumbled upon almost a year ago and kept meaning to check back with, but obviously never did (it would have helped if I spelled her name right) and subsequently forgot about her music.
So when I got the new Couture disc - The Wedding Singer And The Undertaker - in the mail, I thought she was another local singer I'd never heard of. I threw the disc in for a listen and kept thinking I recognized the voice. Turns out, she reminded me of, well, herself. Couture, on the surface, is a singer/songwriter who was inspired by the likes of Ani DiFranco and Joni Mitchell, but this record shows her reaching higher levels, with bigger arrangements and better production. It's no longer live off the floor, rough and ready numbers. Instead Christa solicited the help of some seasoned studio pros and took the time to add the subtle touches needed to complete the tracks.
The opening track - Sad Story Over - showcases the guiding touch of Aaron Joyce and Futcher's production. The arrangement swells as the band throws in snippets of violin, piano, cello and horns. The song blossoms into something more significant than just another acoustic number and smashes down the preconceptions you might have on Couture's work. The bold opener completely shifts the focus of record and allows Couture to settle into the more textbook offerings like Nothing's Changed effortlessly.
If she stuck to any one style the record would have become exhausting. The curse of a female acoustic singer is the simple fact that most of the songs seem to meld into one giant track. The diversity on this one is refreshing as Christa has a few tracks that could have been snatched from Ani's catalog (when she admits, "the bitter bitch is breaking out" on In His Name, you can't help but think of the Righteous Babe), some tender ballads (Further From the Point - the steel and angelic backing vocals on that track are terrific - and the perfectly named I Don’t Play Piano) and some bolder arrangements (like the Canadiana Oh Yes Oh Yes and Map Unfolded), but her voice is so powerful and flexible that she seems at home in all the styles.
So Christa, it's glad to make your acquaintance again. Hopefully this time around I'll see you sooner as opposed to later.