A Review of Nonie Crete's CD
"Girl In A Crazy World"
"Girl In A Crazy World"
Private Label: nc004)
by Nonie Crete
Copyright: Nonie Crete 2003
This review is written by Dai Woosnam, email@example.com, 2/04
The story so far. Some 15 months ago I was seated at this same desk
in my home here in Grimsby, England. And out of the blue came a
surprisingly good CD called “Danny Boy & Ballads” by a Canadian
singer/songwriter named Nonie Crete: someone who, at that point in
proceedings, I had never even had on my radar. The album was a delight,
and was amongst my top ten albums for 2002. And then I discovered she
had already produced a not-inconsiderable body of work, and was also in
some demand gigging in her native country.
So I awaited her follow-up album with interest. And here it is. Was it
worth the wait? Emphatically. Does it even improve upon her last?
Probably not, but it is open to debate, and we'll talk about that in a
Let's first get the trivia out of the way. I said the following when
reviewing her last CD: “…there is no liner (lyric) booklet with this
album. But that's no loss: such is her beautiful diction, it is not
needed. “ . And so what do we get this time? You've guessed: all the
lyrics! Let nobody say that an artiste goes out of their way to comply
with a reviewer's wishes! (Ha! I am teasing you
Nonie, if you are reading this.)
But joking apart, there really is no need for liner lyrics, because if
English was the listener's SEVENTH language, I swear to you that he/she
would understand every syllable. Look, let me put it this way: if I
needed someone to plead for my life (in SONG of course) to a jury who
were relative newcomers to the English language, then Nonie Crete would
be my gal! What a Defence Counsel she would make! She
would not lose a case.
So, with that in mind, I have to say that I was a touch disappointed to
see the lyrics all set out here. Oh, she's avoided all that trendy
nonsense like printing the lyrics in pale yellow on a white background
that has one straining one's eyes: au contraire, the words are
wonderfully easy to read. But they are taking up space. Space that
could have been used for Nonie giving us an entrée into her
“creative process” for each song.
You see, there were questions that arose with every song. Now I realise
that this isn't “painting by numbers”: no songwriter should hold the
listener's hand and spell it all out for them. But just a brief
background as to how (where/when?) the song came to be written, would
really ADD immensely to the enjoyment of the song.
There are twelve tracks on this album. True they all
yield up their meaning without us having to go into darkened rooms to
think about them, but HOW I would have loved to have from Nonie a few
further insights into them. Take for instance perhaps the strongest
song on the album “Let It Rain”.
Now, like most of her songs, it is written in the First Person. But
that in itself tells one nothing. After all, adopting the “I” role is a
time-honoured tradition of poets wishing to don another man's clothes
and experience his existence vicariously. And it could be that Nonie
has done just that here with much of this album. But not I feel, with
It is a nakedly raw and compassionate song about the loss of a loved
one, and in this case presumably, a mother. But, this deathbed scene
seems SO personal, that I cannot believe it is “imagined” experience.
And of course the greatness of the “very personal” in any art form is
that paradoxically, it often lends itself to being embraced by a wider
audience than the reverse…if you get my drift.
Many of us myself included - have lost our mothers in a not
dissimilar way, and by golly, we don't half relate to such searing
“honesty of experience” as Nonie presents us with in this song.
It is one of two songs I expect to be widely covered. The other is
another song with a sweet melody and the most limpid of lyrics:
“Take Me As I Am” . This song has that same quality of heady new
romance that I recall a great song of yesteryear providing: Rosemary
Hardman's "Lady For Today”.
The other songs are all engaging, but in truth probably not strong
enough to be widely covered. The musicianship is of the highest order:
it is probably invidious to mention any one musician, but I will make
mention of three. We do not hear much of Tom Leighton: four tracks as I
recall. And then he plays THREE instruments on those four tracks. But
what he does he does so well: especially his playing of the B-3 organ.
Really thrilling. Nonie should use him more.
The second musician is her usual collaborator, Eugene Rea. Not so
evident here as the last album he is just on some 4 tracks
but by gosh, he is some talented multi-instrumentalist! He plays with
And the third musician? Guess who? Why…Nonie Crete herself. Yes, I knew
she was a very solid guitarist: but I had no idea what a gutsy,
compelling blues harmonica player she was.
But forget her musicianship. Above all, she is a quality singer at the
height of her powers: someone who handles a lyric intelligently and
effortlessly. Marvellous diction and a voice that easily handles a
range of two-and-a-half octaves. And when she leaves the microphone,
there is a chip-off-the-old-block ready to take her place: her young 11
(now 12) year-old daughter Kathleen. She joins her ma on the final
Just listen to the way she sings the word “mend”: pitch perfect. She must have it in her genes.
This album was produced by multi-instrumentalist Paul Mills, that
well-known name on the Canadian Folk Scene. The production values are
of the highest order, and every instrument is HEARD to pay its rent in
every song. But I still look forward to an album of Crete
INTERPRETATIONS of Folk standards. She can put her own stamp on songs
and not sing them parrot-fashion in imitation of the vinyl version she
might remember from way back. Dig into the “Tradition” Nonie, if
royalties pose the problem. But that said, this is fine to be going on
Buy it post free from Nonie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Track List: (no timings shown)
All songs by Nonie Crete unless shown.
- The Giving (Nonie Crete/Kathleen Crete)
- Girl in a Crazy World
- Goin Down
- 15 Years
- Take Me As I Am
- Along The Grand
- Turkey Dinner Suppers
- Wannabe Cowboys
- Let it Rain
- Old Jack (Crete/Mills)
- No Business
- Open My Heart
- Mother Bird
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