Alana Levandoski
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Alana Levandoski

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Still working on that hot first release.



Singer/songwriter Alana Levandoski has been hailed as "The ‘It’ Girl of Canadian Roots Music" by CBC Radio host Bill Stunt.

The spiritual awakening that resulted in Alana’s Rounder debut album "Unsettled Down" began during a wintry night in 2002 when she came to the realization that she wanted to pursue a music career after performing at rodeos, agricultural fairs and festivals in western Canada since her teens.

"I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, and I took a pair of scissors to my long dread-locked hair," recalls the 26-year-old Canadian. "I had $4,000 saved up from working up to eighty-hour weeks. It was toss-up between making a demo of my songs or going to India. I put much of my savings in recording a demo. I was so happy with it that I began working on an album."

"Unsettled Down," co-produced with Winnipeg-based producer/engineer Norm Dugas, was completed in late 2004. It was released last summer in Canada on Rounder.

Reviews of the album have been ecstatic:

"Levandoski’s debut, filled with 10 well crafted country-folk songs, marks her as one of the most promising singer-songwriters to emerge in Canada over the past couple of years." Mike Regenstreif, The Montreal Gazette.

"The songs here--particularly "Red Headed Girl," Prairie Sun," "I Ain't No Saint" and "Bring Me On Home"--are scrupulously honest chronicles of an ingenue's metamorphosis into a heightened state of artistic grace. Her plaintive delivery brings Australia's Kasey Chambers to mind, but these vivid compositions, sensitively realized by producer Norm Dugas, could only have been written by a Prairie girl who is overwhelmed by a vast Canadian horizon, and inching her way toward self-awareness. Compelling stuff by a new songwriter with great promise. Greg Quill, Toronto Star.

"The result is an album of 10 beautiful and touching songs in a folk-meets-old-world-country manner. Levandoski's got the songwriting sensibilities of the country greats; she's able to express heartfelt emotion through compelling, sincere and cliche-free stories." Angela Pacienza, The Canadian Press.

"Unsettled Down" is an unflinching emotional work-- deeply personal and passionate-- etched with lyrics that engage the intellect. Undeniably the product of Alana’s upbringing in rural Western Manitoba, it is also rooted in the immediacy of her experiences in achieving womanhood; and her sense of the faith, and spiritual consistency in her life.

Among the players featured on the album are: Sean Garrity (bass), Christian Dugas (drums), Richard Moody (viola), Randy Hiebert (electric slide), and Ron Halldorson (pedal steel). As well, there are Tania Elizabeth (violin) and Len Podolak (banjo) from the Duhks; bassist "Spider" Sinneave (Loverboy), and guitarist Murray Pulver (Doc Walker).

"'Unsettled Down' largely embodies my childhood, and coming of age," says Alana. "Writing and recording--the innocence and trauma of making a first album--grew me up. I’ve never done anything so intense, so unraveling before. Many sides of myself were revealed [during writing] that I had locked up or had forgotten about or had never known."

Like a minimalist, Alana can evoke compelling characters with a few delicate brushstrokes. But when she sings "Red Headed Girl," "Prairie Sun," "I Ain’t No Saint," "Jezebel’s Ringing" and "Bring Me On Home," there is no gap between narrator and storyteller. These songs are her soul.

While the album displays a naïve exuberance at times, pointedly with "Prairie Sun," there are also deep emotional undercurrents, as in "Sold Your Wings" or a unexpected darkened maturity as in "Bring Me On Home" and "Moonshine."

"I don’t think about the way I write because I write how I write," she says quietly. "These songs come from a real place. But I also wouldn’t be the kind of songwriter I’m aspiring to be if not for poets and writers like Carl Sandburg, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath and Dorothy Parker."

In such songs as "Misty Sea," "Jezebel’s Ringin’," "Don’t You Remember" and "I’ve Seen Your Eyes" Alana conjures up a vision of romance impossible to grasp but endlessly beguiling. Her romance is racked by the elusive concept of freedom.

"Relationships are great for songwriting," she says. "They get you all stirred up. But I’ve never been motivated to write a sappy love song. I’m a natural cynic."

She is most certainly cynical in "Bring Me One Home," coolly telling a soon-to-be ex-lover, "And if sorry don’t cut it with you… I’m sorry." Explains Alana, "While I’m dealing with a relationship for the most part in that song, I’m also speaking to people judging me. There’s a spiritual side to the song. In the second verse I say, ‘Let me sing ‘hallelujah without crossing my fingers/Without always havin’ to come clean/ And if sorry don’t cut it with you… I’m sorry.’"

Alana was raised in the small village of Kelwood, Manitoba. "I was born in nearby McCreary but Kelwood--six miles from our house--is where I have always