Ann Vriend
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Ann Vriend

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | SELF

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2003
Solo Pop Singer/Songwriter




"Ann Vriend: Love & Other Messes CD Review"

Vancouver-born singer-songwriter Ann Vriend gifts us with her first independently released studio album, Love & Other Messes. A wonderful collection of R&B, bluegrass and Motown music, Vriend brings us into her deeply musical world. Everybody Sings in Nashville is a throwback to the 1970s and her voice is a reminder of the stars of a historical time. Graffiti on My Heart is a fun carnival tune, singing about the game of love. With a heart-wrenching, reflective ballad in Tin Man, Ann brings depth with her voice and her musical diversity in her glowing arrangements. Then there’s Excuses 1-8 - everyone can relate with this honest tune, which just pulled on my heartstrings. There is also a duet with Matt Epp, If You Were Here, and it is a lyrical masterpiece. Vriend has an unbelievable voice and her ability to bring out the raw and soul-tapping emotions to our ears is an incredible talent. - The Uniter

"3.5/4 Stars for New Album in Toronto Star"

"Each of the 12 tracks manages the rare feat of sounding at once comfortably familiar and intriguingly original. Vriend and her band of acoustic co-conspirators veer effortlessly between straight-ahead, quiet country, to soul-wrenching blues, to folk-inspired storytelling.... each a gem in its own right. This is one of those albums that improves with each listen."

--Toronto Star, 3.5/4 stars
- The Toronto Star

"Independent Streak"

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Six years ago, up-and-coming Edmonton songwriter Ann Vriend was on the verge of mainstream success by way of a record deal.

What happened though was only too familiar a story in the music biz — the label’s main investor disappeared and the project never got off the ground.

With a contract signed, the recent music school graduate had just quit her waitressing job after cautiously holding on to it until she had pinched herself enough times to figure out it was all real.

“I finally allowed myself to believe this was going to happen,” she recalls.

“But it had been the carrot in front of my nose the whole time because it had been really shitty playing in crappy bars in Alberta all the time,” she laughs, “and touring by myself and having no money. The thing that kept me going was that pretty soon (that) was going to be over.”

Four albums later, and without the help of any record labels, Vriend is enjoying an ever-increasing amount of success in Canada, Europe and even Australia, where she’s toured five times and was commissioned to write a song for the Commonwealth Games.

Her latest and first self-produced, “Love & Other Messes,” was released last year and has critics drooling over her stylistic and lyrical qualities. Impossible to categorize, Vriend’s unique style brings together elements of soul, pop, country, jazz, blues and gospel and so, as many critics agree, it sounds both familiar and strange at the same time.

Opening track “Everybody Sings in Nashville” recounts a move to the American country music Mecca that lasted a mere three weeks.

“(People) are there to get discovered and write hit songs and whatever, which is fair enough,” she explains.

“But just to see so much of it in not a very large city. You get off the plane and there’s a band in the airport, and then it just doesn’t stop from there on in.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of joy in music. I saw a lot of people hanging on to a last thread trying to play music.”

“If You Were Here,” a duet with fellow Western Canadian songwriter Matt Epp that began as an ode to Jeff Buckley, addresses the struggles of a touring musician in love.

“I finally allowed myself to believe this was going to happen." - Ann Vriend

“Don’t Cry,” a solemn number with Vriend on piano and one of the album’s most powerful moments, is a re-make of the song originally recorded for her 2005 sophomore effort “Modes of Transport”.

“I’m from Alberta, but not a fan of pop country at all, but I’m surrounded by it,” she explains.

“I was doing dishes one day and I started singing this melody and (decided) to sit down and see what chords go along with that melody. And then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I wrote a country song! Shit, I like it, but it’s a country song.’

In turn, the song was included on the album but “disguised as a sort of indie-pop song,” Vriend concedes.

“For this record I just embraced the Americana-Country side of some songs that I’ve written since. And I’m also seeing how country and soul music are cousins of each other.”

One listen to “Love & Other Messes” affirms that wherever Vriend takes her music next, and with whatever interest from record labels, it will be in the right direction.

She’s achieved a level of confidence and comfortability with her voice and music that most artists her age don’t. And she’s loving the autonomy to do it on her own accord.

“Obviously being an independent musician is harder in some ways, but in some ways it’s probably better too,” she says.

“I didn’t think, as a writer, I was very ready for that opportunity (in 2004). I’ve learned a lot about writing and about music since then. I’m a way stronger performer than I was then and so if that opportunity came by now I feel I could make the most of it a lot better than I could have then. But it sucked. I had to get my (waitressing) job back and at home it had been in the paper, ‘Ann Vriend gets major record deal,’” she laughs.

Long over the early career shock, Vriend is happy just “doing it the long, slow way of touring and building fans.”

Her extensive Canadian tour brings her to Newfoundland for a pair of performances on tonight at The Ship Pub, where she will co-host the Folk Arts Society’s weekly Folk Night, and Thursday at The Grapevine.
- The Telegram

"Ann Vriend pumps up her music career - Performer gets attention for her footwear as well as her singing"

Ann Vriend in concert

When and where: 9:45 p.m., May 11, Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St.

Tickets: $7 at the door

See those lovely red shoes? They rarely leave Ann Vriend’s feet as the Edmonton singer and pianist travels the globe with her musical wares. She bought the heels at a vintage shop in Australia — for a last-minute photo shoot, which ended up earning Vriend more attention for her footwear than her fierce voice.

“All I got from fans, after that, were women who wanted to know where I got my shoes,” she laughs. “They didn’t say a single thing about my music.

“Then I started wearing the shoes at festivals and I can remember overhearing ladies talk, ‘Oh, did you see those red shoes?’ Nobody could ever remember my name.”

She’s now playing up those heels — wearing them on stage, in videos and in the photos featured on her latest album Love & Other Messes.

It’s a mix of soul and Americana-­flavoured piano tunes, written in various locations around the world, and old treasures from Vriend’s early days as a singer-song­writer.

Don’t Cry is a stripped-down reworking of a soulful indie-pop ditty from her second album, Modes of Transport (2005), Best Thing hails from her self-described “funky era,” while Possession Blues, an old-school lament, is one of Vriend’s only attempts at writing with six strings.

“I’m a failed guitar player,” says Vriend. “I tried learning guitar at one point in my life mainly because transporting a keyboard and a piano is my main problem in life.

“The very first time I tried busking with my horrible keyboard, my parents dropped me off (in downtown Edmonton) and, of course, I didn’t want them to stay.

“I set up and then I realized I completely forgot about the idea of keyboards needing electricity. I didn’t realize you couldn’t just plug in outside, so I had to call my parents and say, ‘I’m done already.’

“Then I bought a guitar and started taking lessons, but the instructor and I got along so well that we would start talking in the lesson, and then all of a sudden, 45 minutes later, there’d be a knock on the door from the next student and I hadn’t even taken the guitar out of its case.”

Not that she has ever missed it. Armed with her trusty 88 keys, she has released four ­albums, including 2003’s Soul Unravelling and 2008’s When We Were Spies, penned an anthem for Canadian athletes at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and repeatedly toured through Australia and U.S. Those trips, in turn, have provided fodder for the tunes on her new effort, including If You Were Here, a smouldering duet with singer-songwriter Matt Epp, written on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

A year later, Vriend penned Tin Man, a ballad about the struggles of long-distance relationships, on a trek through Oz, around the same time that she picked up her red shoes.

“I don’t know how I came up with the Tin Man / Wizard of Oz analogy, but when I did, it seemed to tie together with the Americana theme of the album and my Dorothy shoes,” she laughs.

Those pumps also show up in Vriend’s video for Graffiti On My Heart, a dishevelled cabaret number from Love & Other Messes. The clip, directed by Zack Duncan, was shot at Fort Edmonton Park with a tuba busker, some of Vriend’s fans and Souljah Fyah’s keyboardist/ bassist Paul Joose.

“Without giving too much away, the story is about this girl who’s about to get married,” says Vriend. “All these crazy carnival people and burlesque performers crash the wedding and everything kind of goes awry.”

Postmedia News
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more:
- Ottawa Citizen

"4/5 Stars For "Love & Other Messes" in A n E Magazine"

CD Review

Title: Love & Other Messes

Artist: Ann Vriend

Label: Independent

Released: January 2011


Reviewed By: Kindah Mardam Bey

Wordsmith, poet and storyteller Ann Vriend has come out with her fifth album Love & Other Messes. Easily one of Canada’s greatest unannounced singers, Vriend is what makes the music industry in this country so exceptional. Ann Vriend is one of those sublime Canadian artists that has built a successful career aside from the regular record label route. This means that Vriend is creating, producing and selling her own vision and much like Metric, has not lost her integrity in doing so. Now with that said, albums like Love & Other Messes should be vastly more mainstream than they end up being – Ron Sexsmith is living proof of that.

Aside from “Don’t Cry”, the third track on this album but previously found on the Modes of Transport album (and due for a welcome resurgence), this is all new and original content from Vriend. Although Vriend leans towards bluesy tracks, this album has a particular hint of her trips to Nashville with a hint of country mixed in. Of course “Everybody Sings In Nashville” is an obvious choice in this newer sound, but songs like “The Way You Let Me Down” or the great guitar solo in “More Or Less” have a leaning towards the country-style.

Standout tracks are “If You Were Here” which can only be described as lush, with a smooth vocal between Ann Vriend and Matt Epp that sounds just like a smooth dram of whisky feels going down your throat. “Possession Blues” is another clear hit with her walking back into well-known blues territory. I must admit this is my favourite way Vriend uses her voice, songs like “Where My Heart Lies” from her Modes of Transport album and “Possession Blues” sound like they would be well suited in a blues-club in the ‘20s or ‘30s. But then, the last track on the album “Somebody on the Ground” seems to defy gravity - just an outrageously, let-loose, inspiring, intelligent and sultry track with a hint of organ, that went to instant replay on my iPod.

Love & Other Messes is a well-polished album full of memorable tracks. A nice touch to this album are the little stories about the songs prior to the lyrics and credits in the liner notes. Like you find out the whimsical and playful song “Graffiti On My Heart (You Must Not Love)” was inspired by a “gypsy band play[ing] in a sweaty tent packed with other carnival performers and voyeurs.”

Vriend welcomes fellow musical talents Coco Love Acorn, Matt Epp, Dave Borins, onto her album, and the collaborations are both inspiring and beautiful at times.

Ann Vriend is as perennial as the sun, constantly reminding audiences of what exceptional talent Canadian music produces. Her voice is truly unique and her strengths as a pianist and lyricist means Vriend is the complete package.

On a side note, Vriend is fantastic in concert – a very, very, funny woman that tends to belt out her songs in between her most entertaining comedic intervals. Check out tour dates and where to buy the album here:

Track Listing:

1. Everybody Sings In Nashville

2. Best Thing

3. Don’t Cry

4. If You Were Here

5. The Way You Let Me Down

6. Excuses 1-8

7. More Or Less

8. Possession Blues

9. Graffiti On My Heart

10. Tin Man

11. Long Distance Call

12. Somebody On The Ground - Press Plus 1

"3.5/5 Stars in Winnipeg Press"


Love and Other Messes (Independent)

EDMONTON songstress Ann Vriend is 29, but her music is that of an old soul -- or at least someone influenced by the sounds of old country soul, Motown and blues. Her fifth full-length album is a collection of polished, adult songs that would be all over AM radio if such a thing existed anymore; she's moved away from the girl-at-the-piano pop that characterized earlier albums.

Vriend (pronounced Vreend) has a voice that recalls Dolly Parton's, but the quivery quality is moderated with a warm, smoky allure. She can sound a bit brittle when she swings for the fences, but when she plays it soft and low, its cracked vulnerability is perfect.

If You Were Here is a star-crossed-lovers duet (co-written and sung with Winnipeg's Matt Epp) that oozes longing. Vriend dabbles in cabaret on the playfully sultry Graffiti on My Heart, and Tin Man, which starts out with just piano, martial drumming and husky vocals, is so simply beautiful, you wonder how no one thought to put notes together in that melody before.

Ann Vriend plays The Cyrk on Wednesday. HHH1/2

-- Jill Wilson - Winnipeg Free Press

"Cleaning up the Messes: Ann Vriend narrows her musical scope on her latest album"

Is Ann Vriend's musical schizophrenia at long last over? Since 2003 and the release of her debut album Modes of Transport, the Edmonton-based singer-songwriter has not only picked up accolades as a musician to watch, she's also, by her own account, confused many people. Originally tabbed as a pop pianist with a fully developed voice somewhere between country plaintive and seductive soul, Vriend has since resisted industry machinations to turn her into a producer-pliable, AM-radio-friendly chanteuse. That Vriend is actually a very radio-friendly songwriter is beside the point, especially in the rigidly programmed world of commercial radio.

We can lay the blame for Vriend's difficulties squarely on the door step of Simon & Garfunkle, especially their album Bridge Over Troubled Water.

"My parents didn't let us listen to commercial radio or watch TV while we were growing up," says Vriend, currently lodged back home in Edmonton while preparing for upcoming tours in Alberta and overseas. "All we had to listen to were the records they had from when they were younger, including Bridge Over Troubled Water. If you listen to the record, every song is very different from the last one. Because of that I always thought it was fine to have different genres together on a record."

In seven years and five albums she's deftly mixed pop, jazz, folk and soul without regard for programming strictures, nabbing regional hits ("St Paul," from 2008's When We Were Spies) and a cult following in the process. Vriend has stayed indie throughout, selling an impressive number of records off the stage and through her website, carving out a fanbase not only in Canada but Australia and Europe as well.

"People abroad think you're a big deal because you're touring and you're from a different place. They also treat you differently; in one club in Germany they retuned the piano just before I arrived, and then told me, 'The tuner is still here, because we want to make sure the piano is to your liking,'" Vriend laughs. "Meanwhile, I'll play a show at a soft-seater in Alberta, the piano was tuned three weeks ago and the guy will say, 'Is that not good enough for you, Ann?' In that tone of voice. OK. So, this is why I'm not always here."

After recording in Toronto and New York, Vriend chose a Calgary studio to lay out her latest album, Love & Other Messes. To do this she selected a group of seven musicians ("It was like I was picking a hockey team"), rehearsed them and then toured for a week, after which they went into the studio while the song ideas were still hot in their minds.

"I always felt that the end of tour is when we play best, and that's when we should be recording," she says. "I was lamenting this to the band, and they looked at me like, 'Well?'"

Love & Other Messes is Vriend's attempt at addressing criticism that her albums aren't musically coherent.

"My fear before was that I'd be pigeonholed with one kind of sound," she admits. "I never wanted to settle on one genre, but I actually had enough songs to make it work this time. It's a very American record, in a way, because you can hear both Memphis and Muscle Shoals in the sound, as well as a bit of Motown. There's also the roots and Americana side, that kind of goes into Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris."

For Vriend, much of what she's done on the record involves subverting clichés. Perhaps it has to do with her jazz-heavy training, or just her sense of humour, but she simply can't let a musical progression or a lyric go by without tweaking it somewhat. It works well for those looking for a hummable tune while driving in the car, but also rewards those looking for just a bit more.

"A lot of the songs have two different interpretations that could be read into them, one sincere and the other tongue-in-cheek. Like the song "Everyone Sings in Nashville," which some people have snickered at thinking it's a joke, which doesn't offend me because it had a sort of snideness when I wrote it. On the other hand I've played it in audiences of other songwriters and they just thought it was so mean!"

Vriend also has her way with the shuffle blues ("The Way You Let Me Down") and even nods in the direction of the Beatles with the sugary "More or Less," baiting a sweet melody with the sourest of sentiments. In the end, Love & Other Messes might be more musically cohesive compared to her other releases, but it still sounds like the work of a songwriter who, like her musical heroes, hears no sonic boundaries.

"I don't have any aspirations for the Top 40 with this record," she admits. "It's not that kind of album, it's just not mixed that way. It's mixed like a live '70s band, and in many ways it sounds like the Band. This is a CBC or NPR record and I'm fine with that."

Vriend is pleased with initial reactions to Love & Other Messes, which is also her first outing as a producer. She feels that she's made a point with the album, and is proud of the performances of her ba - VUE Weekly

"Ann Vriend im Café Vinyl"

Wetzlar (cw). Längst über die Grenzen ihrer kanadischen Heimat bekannt, gastierte Sängerin, Pianistin und Songwriterin Ann Vriend vor begeistertem Publikum im Wetzlarer Café Vinyl, der einzigen Musikkneipe mit „Wetzlarer Eselstoff“ im Angebot – dank Hermann, dem orangenen Haus- und Skandal-Esel aus Wesel. -

"Tom Waits für Leichtgewichte Die kanadische Sängerin Ann Vriend liefert eine überzeugende Show ab"

Tom Waits für Leichtgewichte

Die kanadische Sängerin Ann Vriend liefert eine überzeugende Show ab

Dillenburg. Auch bei ihrem zweiten Auftritt in Dillenburg vermochte die zierliche Musikerin Ann Vriend ihr Publikum mit Liedern zwischen Pop, Jazz, Country und Chanson zu überzeugen.

Ann Vriend vermochte bei ihrem zweiten Auftritt in Dillenburg das Publikum für sich einzunehmen.(Foto: Blecher)zoomAnn Vriend vermochte bei ihrem zweiten Auftritt in... |

Mit kraftvoller Stimme, die mal nach Oper, mal nach Vaudeville klang, erzählte sie kleine, angeschrägte Geschichten über verquere Typen in einer verrückten Welt.

Die Melodien der Frau aus dem kanadischen Westen waren genau so groß und bunt wie die Plastikblume, die ihr knappes Partykleidchen zierte. Ansonsten war bei der Sängerin und Keyboarderin nichts zu knapp.

Vergleiche hat die Kanadierin nicht mehr nötig. Sie hat längst ihren eigenen Stil

Weder war die Länge ihres Auftritts vor insgesamt rund 30 aufmerksamen Zuhörern im First Floor der Dillenburger "Erbse" zu kurz, noch waren Zweifel an Klasse ihrer Eigenkompositionen und Coverversionen angebracht.

Ann Vriend, die gerne mit Kate Bush oder Joni Mitchell verglichen wird, sich musikalisch aber ihren Vorbildern Tom Waits und Neil Young verpflichtet fühlt, zeigte bei ihrem Auftritt im intimen Rahmen, dass sie Vergleiche eigentlich nicht mehr nötig hat.

Fantasievoll waren ihre Geschichten, die durchaus literarische Fähigkeiten besitzen, cool und ausgefuchst war ihre Tastenkunst, und stets überraschend unterhaltsam kam ihre Performance daher.

In Dillenburg hat die Musikerin jedenfalls einen festen Fankreis, der auch bei ihrem dritten Auftritt in der Oranienstadt wieder komplett auf der Matte stehen wird. -

"Vriend zieht Publikum in ihren Bann"

Kanadische Sängerin gibt Konzert im Kino von Weilmünster / Manager als Vorgruppe

Weilmünster (mb). Die Kanadierin Ann Vriend hat am Dienstagabend im Kino Weilmünster ein Konzert gegegeben. Als Vorgruppe stand ihr Manager auf der Bühne.

Facettenreich und spielerisch im Wechsel von laut zu leise, von sanft zu starkdie kanadische Sängerin Ann Vriend. (Foto: Bach)zoomFacettenreich und spielerisch im Wechsel von laut ... |
Wer das Weilmünsterer Kino betrat, der fragte sich bei einigen Liedern unweigerlich, ob denn da vorne etwa Leonard Cohen stehe. Denn "Vorgruppe" Henning Franz aus Haiger, der mit Stimme und Gitarre die Sinne des Publikums mit melancholischen Balladen füllte, ist ein großer Freund des Folksängers und hat Gedichte von Leonard Cohen vertont. "Priests" etwa stammt aus einem der ersten Songbücher des 1934 in Montreal geborenen kanadischen Schrifststellers, Komponisten und Sängers. Weiterhin waren zu hören "Brighter than our sun", "An orchand of shoretrees" und andere mehr.

Leonhard Cohen war es auch, der Ann Vriend und Henning Franz zusammenbrachte. Denn Franz hatte vor vier Jahren ein "Leonard-Cohen-Festival" in Berlin organisiert, bei dem er die kanadische Sängerin kennen lernte. Sie fragte ihn damals, ob er für sie in Deutschland eine Tournee organisieren könne - und er konnte. So trat Ann Vriend bereits im vergangenen Jahr in der Bundesrepublik auf, in diesem Jahr nun wurde die Tour-Route auf 13 Veranstaltungsorte ausgeweitet, und dazu gehörte neben Köln, Mannheim, Wiesbaden, Stuttgart, Trier und anderen Städten auch der Auftritt in Weilmünster. Bis auf "Crazy for love" von Willie Nelson waren es alles eigene Lieder, die Ann Vriend zu Gehör brachte.

Erinnerung an Norah Jones

Dass sie eine ausgebildete, perfekte Pianistin und Sängerin ist, das bewies sie mit ihren Liedern, die das Publikum in ihren Bann zogen. Die Leichtigkeit ihres Klavierspiels erinnert an Norah Jones und textlich verfolgt sie die Spuren von Paul Simon und Leonard Cohen. Die Kanadierin suchte am Dienstagabend auch den Kontakte mit dem Publikum: "Eine schöne Jacke hast Du an", sagte sie spontan zu einer Zuhörerin, die der Sängerin mit "Spanien" sogleich den Herkunftsort des Kleidungsstücks nannte.

Virtous setzte Ann Vriend ihre wunderschöne Stimme ein und beherrschte sie wie ein Instrument: Facettenreich und spielerisch im Wechsel von laut zu leise, von sanft zu stark - bis hin zu einer Intensität wie Aretha Franklin. Im Mittelpunkt des Konzerts stand die neue Live-CD "Closer Encounter", unter anderem mit den Liedern "On your street", "Backseat driver", "Excuses" oder "Feelin´Fine".

Das Publikum im Weilmünsterer Kino war begeistert von der Musik der schönen Künstlerin, die in Edmonton, der Hauptstadt der kanadischen Provinz Alberta, zusammen mit ihrem Freund lebt. Auf der Deutschland-Tournee hat Radio Bremen ein Konzert von Ann Vried aufgenommen und wird es Anfang nächsten Jahres senden. -

"Plucky Canadian vocalist sings an independent tune"

PETITE Canadian songstress Ann Vriend says she has an affinity with Australia -- even parts of the country where the pubs are not recognised for their acceptance of sensitive singer-songwriters.

"I'm from Edmonton, Alberta, which is an oil town in an oil province," the singer, on a 10-week solo tour, said in Melbourne yesterday. "It's pretty much the same."

Vriend, who has been compared to everyone from Joni Mitchell to Regina Spektor and even the young Aretha Franklin, said she had developed skills to deal with trouble on the road.

"I spent enough time as a waitress while getting my career off the ground to know my way around drunks, " she said.

But with a growing international following, independent record sales of about 15,000, and a string of reviews and accolades to her name that many more established artists would kill for, Vriend is hopeful that people who know her music will win out over potentially difficult elements.

Vriend said that after 10 years in the business she still preferred to distribute her music independently.

"When I won a songwriting competition at the beginning of my career (in 2000) I was shopped to a few majors," she said. "But the deals they were offering were kind of anti-artistic.

"It was all `you have to be this and for the rest of your life you will write songs in this genre, and you must look like this, and be this personality'," she said.

Vriend said that, due to contractions in the industry, it's now worse than ever. "It's no different now to the marketing of a brand of toilet paper, or cat food.

"That's OK, that's the way the world is, but I just don't want that kind of a life. I think I would find that really depressing and in direct opposition to what I love about being a musician, which is the freedom."

Vriend said she was now in a position where she could meet another artist and decide to record or tour together "without checking with our labels first".

And meet people she does.

Almost an honorary Australian, Vriend stays with friends all over the country when she tours. "That's partly because I've never had a huge budget, but you see so much more of a city -- and a country -- when you hang out with the locals, who can shepherd you to the really cool things and away from the tourist traps," she said.

Following her extensive Australian tour, Vriend is due home in Alberta on May 4. "May the fourth be with you!" she tells friends back home, who can't wait to hear her stories of the tour. - The Australian

"Ann Vriend"

Road Trips

Ann Vriend’s musical journey is just getting started.

Elle Magazine, August, 2006

By Egla Proscuta

Ann Vriend sings with the heart-stopping intensity of Aretha Franklin, plays piano with the ease of Norah Jones and writes songs as powerful in their simplicity as those of Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen.

Yet not many people outside of the Edmonton-based singer’s home province know about her. To boost her profile, this spring Vriend decided to hop in her stationwagon and set off on a cross-country tour to promote the release of her second CD, Modes of Transport (Independent/Spirit River Distribution). "I’m not much of a rock star," she jokes about her plain-Jane Ford Taurus. "But at least I don’t have to worry about speeding tickets!"

For Vriend, becoming a musician has been a lifelong dream. Although she started university as a music major, she recognized early on that becoming a classical pianist wasn’t for her. Vriend transferred to English literature, with a minor in music, but as graduation approached, she had a life-altering moment. While watching a battle of the bands from the rock, pop and jazz program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, she told herself, "If that’s what comes out of this school, that’s where I want to go." Vriend auditioned that same week and got in, abandoning university. Before forming her band, The Dropouts, she sang with jazz groups as well as retro-funk and soul cover bands.

She’s hoping that performing in Europe this summer will jumpstart her career in Canada, the way it did for Feist and Hawksley Workman. "It’s funny," Vriend says philosophically, "how sometimes you just have to go away in order to come back and be better known at home." - Elle Magazine

"NOW critic's pick ANN VRIEND The Clandestine EP () Rating: NNNN (4/5 stars)"

NOW Magazine, August 23- 29, 2007

She released her first record four years ago, but Alberta's Ann Vriend has yet to make a major mark on the Canadian music scene. Her last album, Modes Of Transport, got some raves, but the so-called piano pop laureate deserves more attention.

Her latest release, The Clandestine EP, won't do anything for her popularity – it's a limited-edition, five-song release – but it's a great precursor to what's sure to be a memorable third full-length album, whenever that comes out.

The EP, only available for sale on her website and through her MySpace page, finds the perfect balance between lush, radio-friendly pop and Alberta twang.

St. Paul, one of the better songs on the disc, features Vriend's smooth, rootsy vocals backed by CMT-approved instrumentation, while Hallowe'en's soft pop intro and passionate lyrics show off the songwriter's endless potential.

Ann Vriend plays the Rivoli Wednesday (August 29). - NOW Magazine

"An Interview with Singer Ann Vriend"

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Vriend seems to have all the right skills for the music biz; talent, originality, and a sense of humour. Meet the music worlds' best card trick....

By: Kindah Mardam Bey, feature photo by Andy Learmont, Ghost Imaging

Ann Vriend was performing as part of the Alberta Songwriter’s Series last April when I spotted her remarkable vocals from sitting somewhere just above the clouds. Even from that distance, Vriend’s voice filled the room with Leonard Cohen’s ‘I’m Your Man’ with intent and emotion. Yes, Ann is a girls name and no singing a song as it was wrote does not a statement make. Vriend prefaced the song with her intent to sing the track as her role model Cohen had intended, but somehow oddly enough, Vriend singing ‘I’m Your Man’ sounded perfectly fitting and within the realm of ‘normal.’ I suspected early on that Vriend’s admiration of Cohen had something to do with his ever-identifiable vocals as Ann Vriend may not sound like Cohen’s deep and earnest voice, but they share a commonality in their distinctive and emotive singing. Vriend reflects on Cohen’s unique voice ‘Cohen has an honest voice, one that gets to our hearts. I want to have a voice that affects people like that. It’s not so much about the technique but more about the story behind the words.’

The Alberta Songwriter’s Series is intended to promote and showcase talent from the second most Western province of Canada. Probably more compelling then Vriend singing Cohen was Vriend singing her own songs. Vriend is a unique vocalist, with her own distinguishing set of pipes, so when I caught up with Ann in June for an interview I had to ask her how she discovered her voice was not only unique, but compelling as well. Aside from talent that reminds me of an early Sarah McLachlan who could both sing and write songs, and play instruments (known as an ‘all rounder’ in the biz), Vriend has a great sense of humour. If music never panned out for her, she could do a whole sketch about the music industry and have you rolling with laughter in the aisles. Somewhat self-depricated as her humour might be, Vriend explains that the horror of having to sing a song she’d wrote for her friend to sing in a High School talent show to her friend, was simply more overwhelming to Vriend then actually singing the song in front of the whole school; with that logic, who needs reason? It turned out that after performing her song to the school, she received more accolades for her voice than the song she wrote; a star was born.

Mind you Ann Vriend was working on her vocation much earlier than High School, she played violin for a time and she says ‘I dropped it, not literally, the violin I mean…I gave it up.’ Her Mother played piano in the Church, but even though Vriend came from an academic family her parents made music an important part of her childhood as she tells ‘Mum made all of us play some instrument at least.’ From that early age Vriend discovered she had a skill for making up melodies on the piano she says ‘apparently it’s abnormal to do that, I had no idea! I figured all the other kids having piano lessons were making up melodies as well.’

So when it was time for University, a natural inclination towards music led Ann to major in the subject ‘I found that the training was in classical music and that seemed less functional for what I wanted to get out of music. Oddly, I changed my degree to English and that seemed a better fit. It was only after I saw the Battle Of The Bands in Edmonton that the light bulb went off though. I moved over to a college program for music that seemed to fit into the type of music I was making. Now music is my full time job. It is a lot tougher then I ever imagined to make a career of music, but if you believe that it is possible and you think in creative ways, then I believe you can succeed. Don’t give yourself a plan B; never give yourself an escape route.’

Sinking her teeth into her debut album Soul Unravelling in 2003, Vriend’s kept up her enthusiasm for a second album Modes Of Transport in 2005, which is a title she attributes her father formulating. Modes Of Transport is filled to the brim with music that is compelled to be a Plan A with-no-escape-route only. Songs like ‘Where My Heart Lies’ are haunting and romantic, or songs like ‘Crowd Pleaser’ are up beat and whimsical. Vriend says ‘I wrote crowd pleaser about a friend and fellow singer from Australia. He is naturally charismatic and is always a personality in a crowd, and yet he writes such heartbreaking, sad and delicate songs. I guess I saw the contrast and thought that was a good theme for a song.’ With Vriend’s background in English she pays attention to the detail of her lyrics ‘I like to write a song, or find words that mean more than one thing. I’ll start with a quote or a phrase that has a lot of imagery around it; I want my music to stand on its own.’

Ann Vriend’s next collection of songs is a limited edition E - Music In Spades: An Interview with Singer Ann Vriend


For The People In The Mean Time - March 11, 2014

Love & Other Messes - January 1, 2011

Closer Encounters (Live Album) - October 7, 2009

When We Were Spies - March 11, 2008

Modes of Transport - 2005

Soul Unravelling - 2003



Ann Vriend: Retro Soul Songstress

Ann Vriend's new album, entitled "For The People In The Mean Time," tells tough tales of the struggle of city life against the backdrop of explosive retro soul beats and harmonies, with Vriend's unmistakable voice guiding the way.  Borrowing sounds from the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, P Funk, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles the album has an old, familiar quality to it, yet Toronto producer Tino Zolfo has simultaneously kept it contemporary to current pop -- albeit on his signature quirky side of that category.  "For The People In The Mean Time" will be officially released March 11, 2014, with a single airing on Australian radio station Triple J this January, and a guest appearance on CBC's Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean airing in April in Canada and the U.S. 

This past July Vriend won the Canadian nation-wide She's the One contest at the Ottawa Bluesfest in the solo category.  To quote Obscure Magazine: "With her soaring vocals, impressive songwriting ability, and instrumental prowess, Vriend is truly an all-in-one package."  She will tour Australia, Canada, and Western Europe in the next 4 months in support of her new album. 

Edmonton based Ann Vriend (pronounced Vreend) was born in Vancouver, BC.  When her parents discovered their 3-year-old could play nursery songs on a Fisher Price xylophone, they encouraged her musical development by enrolling her in violin lessons.  At age nine, when Vriend sought to accompany herself as a songwriter, she took piano lessons from an elderly woman down the street who charged $5 per visit.  In high school, in order to be able to do submit her home-made recordings for a school project, Vriend was coerced into performing 3 of her compositions at the school talent show.  Accolades from her fellow students translated into projects with older students in bands, scholarships at music college, 1st place in a songwriting contest which paid for her debut album, interest from NYC record labels, and praise from critics and loyal fans around the world. 

First, the voice: Soulful, inspiring, brave and bluesy (Rip It Up, Adelaide) with a vocal range from vulnerable delicacy to blasts of soulful power (Halifax Chronicle) Vriend's vocal sound has been described as an enchanting cross between the girly timbre of Dolly Parton and the blues-filled prowess of Aretha Franklin -- and as almost confronting in its candour by The Sydney Morning Herald. 

Besides this, Vriend's songs possess a natural knack for melody, garnering her hits on both independent and commercial radio stations -- including Gold rotation for her tune Feelin' Fine -- and have charted on college stations as far away as Germany and the Netherlands. 

Without any publishing representation Vriend has been commissioned to write songs for organizations such as the Canadian Tourism Corporation and the Commonwealth Games, and her music has been featured in a U.S. DVD release of Party of Five. 

After being invited by the Songwriters' Association of Canada to perform alongside Canadian songwriting heavyweights such as Marc Jordan and Dan Hill, Hill invited Vriend to write with him.  The result is many successful ongoing songwriting sessions and a song Vriend and Hill wrote together, entitled The Greatest Killer, which appears on For The People In The Mean Time.  Hill is quoted as saying: "Ann Vriend is a brilliant songwriter, and equally gifted as a singer and piano player.  Her way of writing accessible and yet highly unique and authentic songs, is, in my opinion, unparalleled by any new singer/songwriter emerging in N. America today."

But at the core of Vriend's career is her live shows.  Despite being an independent artist she has sold more than 14,000 albums off the stage.  As a balance between her intensely performed songs, Vriend is fantastic in concert a very, very, funny woman that tends to belt out her songs in between her most entertaining comedic intervals (A n E Vibe Magazine).  Her rapport with her audience can be heard on her live album, Closer Encounters, released in 2009.  It is this connection that has sustained her career to this point, and she enjoys an avid and committed international fan base.

Stated forcefully by the Toronto Star: Don't miss her. (3.5/4 stars) 


Band Members