Ambre McLean
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Ambre McLean

Kitchener, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE

Kitchener, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2004
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter




"Ambre McLean - Music, lyrics and being a cover girl"

The Royal City Songbird.
After listening to Ambre McLean I can see why she won the cover of our first (Guelph) issue. She's an incredibly talented musician and lyricist. - Velvet Rope Magazine

"Album Review: Ambre Mclean – Murder at the Smokehouse"

Ambre Mclean’s album opens with a single distorted guitar peppered in reverb, soon moves on to a strong and smooth vocal and is eventually supported by a slew of rhythm instruments. It builds up and breaks down and boasts a very catchy sing a long style chorus. It’s the title track, and it is also the format of the CD.

Mclean’s vocals are well sold, immediately grasping enough attention to continue listening. The type of voice that can do what it needs to do in the necessary spots, changing from soft and flippant to gruff and commanding.

But for a solo album the supporting instruments aren’t flat in the mix. They do their job as well as they can while still keeping in mind that it’s the lead singer/songwriters show.

Fitting into what is basically the textbook pop song format, the tracks on “Murder at the Smokehouse” are conventional in a way that isn’t boring. The songs are very catchy and fairly simple in their construction but stay fresh enough to keep listener attention. The lyrics aren’t complicated and are easy to read, but they’re not overly simplified in a way that would make them pedestrian.

All this may stem from the fact that Mclean knows how to lead a long the ear, be it slowing her phrasing and then speeding it up or hamming up her performance to keep things interesting. The same way a stage actor has to yell everything they say, even when they’re supposed to be whispering. Dressing up something plain in an ear grabbing way.

The album features touches of the alternative. A vocal bass “bomm boom” on “Tricky Truth”, some organ, and some far off vocal fluttering. But I think the album works best when it’s at its grassroots stages, with the guitar and voice demanding attention and doing it well.

In this genre of music it’s almost unnecessary to highlight the other artists Mclean sounds like. Ambre Mclean wears her influences on her sleeve without ripping anyone off and that’s fine with me. The songs vary enough to sound original and not like mimicry.

The album is simple and goes down easy. It stays within the norm of the pop/alternative female singer songwriter, but it owns the genre. It has well built songs with very catchy hooks. Mclean shows some serious vocal chops and enough confidence to make me believe in what she’s doing.
- NOISOGRAPHY - Review by Alex Goyetche

"CD REVIEW: Ambre McLean's "Murder at the Smokehouse" (a musical novella)"

Ambre McLean defies categorization, and this is good. It may be hard to file Murder at the Smokehouse, but that's precisely the point: this is music to be listened to, and better yet live. Don't bother naming it - just enjoy.

McLean's sound is intricate and ambitious. All the parts on the record were performed by her, with the guitar and vocal tracks being recorded in one take, off the floor. That's impressive: as the guitar and McLean's voice are the highlights here - two constants in a fine set of songs. The guitar playing is great - subtle and textured, generally understated but loud when necessary, mild distortion here and there, strong strumming like a train when necessary, subtle picking like a mild rain when necessary. The other constant - McLean's voice - is an intrument itself: gorgeous, sometimes with a rich, bluesy feel, other times a sweet mellow sound, alternatively soft and ferocious, always carrying these tunes straight to your musical heart.

Title track opener, Murder at the Smokehouse, is a traditional roots rocker that features distorted guitar, a train like beat and many other sounds to propel the rhythm. But McLean shifts gears midway through to change the mood with slow walking sounds, a chain, and a whistle, then the guitar kicks back in with McLean expressing all the angst of someone who might become the victim of revenge. McLean returns to a rootsy approach on the last track, Got to Get by, which also features slow guitar and harmonica.

The style shifts dramatically after the first track with Why?, which features upbeat guitar strumming and a pretty plea for answers about a relationship failing. On this track McLean's voice reminds me a bit of Brandy Carlisle, with the guitar style reminscent of Billy Braggs' guitar/vocal only experiments. The same feeling is evident on Fast Feet which picks up the pace to make a good old rock and roll love song.

Other tracks feature a more bluesy sound, but none of these songs is pure blues. Bottom of the Well, while bluesy, reminds me of some of the sad laments of Patsy Cline, Not Myself is more soul than blues, with vocals changing from the subtle to high notes and a waltz like beat, and also features the melodica. Cheapshot is the rockiest, and bluesiest, track here, featuring distorted electric guitar, a traditional blues refrain plus a great rhythm with a strong drumbeat and claps. This song is fantastic, and invokes old Zeppelin takes on guitar blues.

McLean is not averse to experimenting. Tricky Truth features accordion, plus low vocal bass sounds for rhythm and many overlapping voices. It approaches an electronic hip hop song. An interesting track, but not as moving as the balance of the record. McLean is at her best when she focuses on the guitar and voice, and she has enough musical chops in her arsenal to use those to excellent effect.

Wait and See Love is definitely a standout track here - mellower, nice guitar picking, pretty melody and lyrics. This is a lovely song about hope in a relationship: "We can be, love, anything, love, with trust and kindness we'll be fine..." A fantastic showcase to McLean's voice. That strong vocal is also apparent on the Macy Gray-esqueWhen Is That Day Gonna Come? This track features subtle electric guitar but also intoduces keyboards, all bound up in a nice soul package. For those of you who have seen Ambre McLean perform, this is not surprising. Her stage presence can be mesmerizing with all the various sounds being looped in over time to form a cohesive song. There's danger in that approach: the artist risks becoming a gimmick, like the one person band street performer. But there is no gimmick here: whatever technology McLean uses to put the sounds into each song, the music never gets lost. "Murder at the Smokehouse - a musical novella", can't possibly capture the intensity and interest of McLean's live work. But with its from the floor recording approach, and skilful changes in sound and texture, the record captures the essence of her musical spirit - that of an independent singer/songwriter who does a great job of exploring the edges of the 'genre' taking on blues, rock, jazz, rap, soul and more. Well worth checking out. - NxEW written by David Yazbeck

""Recording artists in Stittsville!" by John Curry"

Ambre McLean is known for her rich vocal stylings. She is dazzling on both the piano and guitar, playing a little big of jazz and a little bit of pop, but all with soul. - The Stittsville Weekender

"The Guelph Mercury"

"Guelph singer-songwriter Ambre McLean's lyrics pour out to her listeners, as if she is speaking directly to them. McLean creates harmonic landscapes. Her original music is a hybrid of jazz, folk, blues and pop, is directing her own rising star." - Sean Bray

"Review on"

"Ambre is an undiscovered gem in sea of music mediocrity. Her lyrics are dripped with tales of love, loss and struggle. If you want to hear one of Canada's greatest independent singer/songwriters look no further." - Chris Iwanowski : Barking Dog Studios

"CBC Radio"

"Her record ( I Wonder If) is just the kinda thing we like..."

"McLean is Canada's best kept secret." - Mark Rheaume, CBC Radio Music Resources

"On The Wings of Destiny"

'She must have been born to it. Ambre is a brilliant player, a brilliant songwriter and a brilliant performer. She has been such an integral part of the Guelph music scene over the past 10 years.' - CBC3 Radio Host, Craig Norris - Guelph Life


Still working on that hot first release.



Ambre McLean can seem small on stage, but it doesnt take long for her talent to make her seem larger than life, a giant filing the room with the kind of songs that make you remember lost loves and abandoned dreams. To appreciate Ambre McLean is to see her perform live, she truly is a decadent pleasure captured on the stage. McLeans rich vocal stylings have often been compared to Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple and KT Tunstall. Ambre McLean has created a style all her own. Shell dazzle you on piano or guitar a little bit blues n jazz, a little bit pop and all soul.

A regular on the Canadian music festival circuit, you may have had the pleasure of enjoying McLean at:

Winterfolk 2013 (Toronto)
In The Dead Of Winter (Halifax)
Hillside Festival (Guelph)
GAIN Music Festival (Guelph)
Burlington Sound Of Music Festival (Burlington)
NXNE (Toronto)
Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival (Fredericton)
Taste of the Kingsway (Toronto)
Hamilton Music and Film Festival
International Writer's Fest (Ottawa)
The Marmora Jamboree (Marmora)
Tilsonburg Festival (Tilsonburg)

"She must have been born to it. Ambre is a brilliant player, a brilliant songwriter and a brilliant performer. She has been such an integral part of the Guelph music scene over the past 10 years."(Craig Norris, CBC?)?

"McLean's voice - is an instrument itself: gorgeous, sometimes with a rich, bluesy feel, other times a sweet mellow sound, alternatively soft and ferocious, always carrying these tunes straight to your musical heart.?"
(David Yazbeck,

"You don't know much if you don't know Ambre McLean"
(Care Finch, Velvet Rope/ECHO Magazine)

"Seeing Ambre live is what live music should be like - Spontaneous Combustion... This is the new sound of Canada rising, soulful, thoughtful, and reflective.?"
(Michael Williams, Cashbox)

"I find her voice fantastically expressive." - Alan Cross

-Top ranking female(Top 8 overal) in CBC's Searchlight: The Hunt For Canada's Best New Artist 2013
-2011 1st place CBC "All in A Day" songwriting contest for song "So Over"
-2010 OCFF/Galaxie Rising Star (Songs From the Heart)
-2009 1st Place Guelph Singer/Songwriter Contest
-2 time tri-cities ECHO award (peoples choice) for best singer/songwriter