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Pop Music Review

Chantal Kreviazuk: Ballads With a View

May 27, 2000|NATALIE NICHOLS

Canadian singer-pianist Chantal Kreviazuk may be best known in America for crooning Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home" on the album "Songs from 'Dawson's Creek.' " So her small El Rey Theatre audience was naturally thrilled Thursday when a low-key Newman played piano while she sang his tune, but they also found her own material just as delightful.

Accompanied by a keyboardist-guitarist, the classically trained 27-year-old drew the 80-minute set mostly from her current album, "Colour Moving and Still." In a ringing, slightly crackly, elastic voice that occasionally recalled a sweeter Rickie Lee Jones, she offered painfully sincere observations about the joy of true love, the nobility of dying children and the poignancy of growing up.

Incredibly, these rarely sounded horribly pretentious, perhaps because her balladic pop, while highly emotive, didn't reach for the fevered pitch of a Tori Amos or Fiona Apple. Or perhaps it was just hard to resist the intelligence and compassion she radiated between numbers, explaining her inspirations so eagerly that occasionally the story behind the song went on longer than the actual tune.

However, along with her powerful voice, her viewpoint was her strongest suit, for the music itself, while undeniably pretty, proved mostly bland and forgettable. Which didn't stop the fans from demanding more, and, upon getting it, happily joining in when she obliged with another of her soundtrack cover songs (from "Armageddon"), John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

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