Annabelle Chvostek Ensemble Rise

Annabelle Chvostek EnsembleRise
Annabelle Chvostek's second solo effort since leaving the Wailin' Jennys is nothing short of captivating. The scrappy songsmith digs deep into populous discontent for the theme of the record without coming across as just another petulant folky inflating the value of protest songs (because whining about a problem is so much easier than doing something to address it). The Don Kerr-produced Rise features guest vocals by everyone and the kitchen sink: Bruce Cockburn, Oh Susanna, a crying baby and what's termed A People's Chorus, featuring Amy Campbell and a few other recognizable names. And, yes, some pots and pans are thrown in for good measure. The melodious sway of the goose-bump-inducing "Hartland Quay" (best enjoyed with your eyes closed) and perky fireside strummers like "Fox Tail" certainly help lighten the atmosphere. That being said, even the most provocative cuts, such as "End of the Road," "G20 Song" and Peter Tosh's "Equal Rights," manage to go down easy, thanks to Chvostek's quirky spunk and the most intoxicating sing-along choruses heard in years. The addition of clanging casserole pans on "End of the Road" (a Chilean by way of Montreal M.O. for street protesting) is the final touch, bringing the opening track to the height of perfection. Rise is a milestone for Chvostek and deserves to claim its spot on a number of year-end best-of lists. (Borealis)