Emilie-Claire Barlow

Emilie-Claire Barlow

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN
BandJazzAdult Contemporary


You could say that The Beat Goes On finds Emilie-Claire Barlow going back to the future. You see, the Toronto jazz chanteuse’s acclaimed previous two albums, 2007’s The Very Thought of You and 2009’s Haven’t We Met? (both nominated for Juno Awards) drew upon the Great American Songbook and tunes from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Here, she looks forward to the ‘60s for her repertoire, and the result is a charming album that does real musical justice to that most colorful of decades.

“I just felt it was time to do something a little different from the last two records,” Barlow explains. “I started looking at the songs of the ‘60s and they really struck me. This is not an attempt to sum up the ‘60s or call these the best songs of the decade. These are songs that hit me, sparking ideas of how to re-create them in my own way”

The ‘60s are a veritable musical treasure trove and Emilie-Claire mines this rich vein with real deftness. The result is a wonderfully varied collection of classic songs given new life by her inventive arrangements and signature vocal skill. The diversity of the song choices on The Beat Goes On came quite naturally, she says.

“It was only when I analyzed it later that I saw this was a good cross-section of puzzle pieces from the musical decade. There is Motown [“Yester-me Yester-you Yester-day”], country [“He Thinks I Still Care”], singer/songwriters like Carole King, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bob Dylan, bossa nova and psychedelia, with Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman.” That was all completely subconscious.”

On the conscious level came Emilie-Claire’s creative decision-making. She chose the comfortable recording environment of the Doane LeBlanc studio, a facility co-owned by Barlow’s husband, Daniel LeBlanc. Daniel, a noted composer and producer, took on co-production, engineering and mixing roles. “From knowing me so well, he has a good idea of what I’m going for, so the sessions go smoothly. It’s nice to have someone that you trust to bounce ideas off of. And he always tells me the truth!” says Barlow.

She had full control of the arrangements, and she assembled an A- team of top players to work with. “As a producer and arranger, I love getting to make those kinds of decisions. Toronto has so many talented musicians to choose from. The recording process is a magical thing. It feels like a luxury to me to be able to realize these ideas with these great players.”

The lineup includes her regular band of guitarist Reg Schwager, bassist Ross MacIntyre, saxophonist Kelly Jefferson and drummer Davide DiRenzo. “We have developed a real chemistry, and it was so nice to capture that on the recording,” says Barlow. This lineup (minus DiRenzo) shines on a version of George Jones hit “He Thinks I Still Care,” one featuring typically fluent fingering from guitar ace Schwager.

Other all-star musicians recruited for the sessions include William Carn (trombone), Kevin Turcotte (flugelhorn), John Johnson (baritone sax), Tom Sczesniak (accordion), Mark Kieswetter (piano), Bill McBirnie (flute), Jason Logue (trumpet, flugelhorn), and Justin Abedin (electric guitar). “All the players had chemistry and a great sense of humour. That is what I want to be surrounded with in the studio – good vibes.” says Emilie-Claire. “We recorded most of the bed tracks in just three days in March. It was very intense and productive, and also great fun.”

Those good vibes floating around the studio are captured on the warm and often musically witty sound of The Beat Goes On. Barlow can move from playful (“Sunshine Superman,” “The Beat Goes On”) to poignant (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “Until It’s Time For You To Go”) with graceful ease, thanks to a voice that convincingly portrays the whole gamut of emotions.

As on previous discs, she moves effortlessly between languages, showing off her charming french accent in a remake of Pauline Julien’s “Comme Je Crie, Comme Je Chante”, and floating along in Brasilian Portuguese on “O Barquinho (Little Boat)”.

Emilie-Claire notes that the challenge of a project like this is that “you want to honour the songs but you want to make them your own.” She does that by recasting these gems in different musical settings, so the listener will get to experience them in a new light. Barlow cites “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” as an example. “The lyrics are quite melancholy. I wanted to re-harmonize it and have that darkness represented in the chords.” The result is a piano-driven ballad that’s a tender treat.

Barlow’s well-developed skills as an arranger are on vivid display on the title track, an inventive blend of “The Beat Goes On” and Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova,” the infectious instrumental tune familiar as both the theme of popular TV game show My Definition and the Austin Powers movie. “My inspiration was the Buddy and Cathy Rich version of ‘The Beat Goes On,’, groove-wise, not Sonny and Cher’s. It’s definitely groove-oriented, and that gave me the inspiration of mel


The Beat Goes On (2010)

1. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
2. Sunshine Superman
3. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
4. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
5. He Thinks I Still Care
6. The Beat Goes On/Soul Bossa Nova
7. These Boots Were Made For Walkin’
8. Until It’ Time For You To Go
9. Little Boat (O Barquinho)
10. Comme Je Crie, Comme Je Chante
11. Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow?
12. Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
13. T’es Pas Un Autre

Haven’t We Met? (2009)

1. All I Do Is Dream Of You
2. C’est Merveilleux
3. You’re Driving Me Crazy
4. Comin’ Home Baby
5. Haven’t We Met?
6. I’m Glad There Is You
7. Chez Moi
8. Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
9. Jardin d’Hiver
10. La Vem A Baiana
11. Will You Still Be Mine?
12. You Make Me Feel So Young
13. You Must Believe In Spring

The Very Thought Of You (2007)

1. The Very Thought Of You
2. Almost Like Being In Love
3. O Patp (The Duck)
4. Les Yeux Ouverts
(Dream A Little Dream Of Me)
5. Pennies From Heaven
6. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
7. Surrey With The Fringe On Top
8. My Time Of Day/I’ve Never Been In Love Before
9. C’est Si Bon
10. De Conversa Em Conversa
11. The Boy Next Door
12. So Many Stars

Winter Wonderland (2006)

1. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
2. Winter Wonderland
3. Sleigh Ride
4. Santa Baby
5. Christmas Time Is Here
6. Baby It’s Cold Outside (feat. Marc Jordan)
7. Little Jack Frost
8. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
9. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
10. Angels’ Lullaby

Like A Lover (2005)

1. Like A Lover
2. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
3. Someone To Watch Over Me
4. A Time For Love
5. So Danco Samba
6. The Things We Did Last Summer
7. (I’ve Got) Just About Everything I Need
8. Retrato Em Branco E Preto
9. Our Love Is Here To Stay
10. Blame It On My Youth
11. Like A Lover (remix)