You may think that you know Ann Vriend. You’re a sophisticated music-lover, after all – otherwise, what are you doing here? – and you’re always on the lookout for new music and new voices and this pursuit sometimes takes you to Canada, so yes, you know of this singer-songwriter from Edmonton, with this big voice full of soul.
You may also have been one of the select few who discovered her 15 years ago, when she released her debut album, aptly titled ‘Soul Unraveling’ (the same year that Amy Winehouse released ‘Frank’, by the way), and have marveled about her songwriting, delivery and signature sound since.
There are not many singers around whose name is always mentioned alongside Aretha Franklin’s and this is pretty much all anyone needs to know about Ann Vriend’s timbre, but you know all that, already.
You also know that there’s more to her than a neo-soul singer. That she’s an accomplished songwriter, crafting stories like a Carol-King-on-
speed-chia-seeds, to the point that she would fit in perfectly within the Brill Building. In fact, there should be a modern-day Brill building constructed to host her talent. Because for all the classing pop-soul era references, there’s nothing nostalgic about her songs – they’re as current and urgent as it goes, being the account of her own life and times, that is of the life and times of any person trying to make sense of the world around us.
But even if you do know all that, you know nothing about Ann Vriend, really. Not unless you’ve actually seen her perform live. Because it is on stage that Ann Vriend really shows what’s she’s made of, when all these elements – the voice, the songs, the sound, her petite figure – come together, combined with a biting sense of humour and a kind of disarming honesty that has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand.
And it is only in her live performances that she unleashes the champion piano/ keyboard player in her. Give her a corner, a spotlight and a set of 88s, and she can tame you in no time. You may have had this experience when Ann Vriend last came to Australia. If you haven’t, there’s still a chance for you to get onboard.