Friday, May 25, 2012

Lisa McClowry - "Sings Acoustic Alchemy" - Release on Big Deal Records 6/5/12 #jazz

The highly anticipated follow-up to her 2010 breakthrough album Time Signatures, Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy is more than simply a collection of fresh vocal interpretations of ten of the popular British based guitar duo’s most beloved songs. For the multi-talented, Chicago based powerhouse singer and AA’s Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale, it’s a celebration of an exciting new collaboration that will include 2012 tour dates throughout the U.S. with McClowry and the duo as special guests.

Longtime fans of Acoustic Alchemy, who have been a major force in contemporary instrumental music since the late 80s, will no doubt dig into the duo’s rich 25 year catalog to identify the original tracks these new vocal songs are based on. Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy is also an opportunity for them and many other sophisticated music fans to discover one of today’s most versatile artists. The singer, whose four octave range and stylistic excursions into jazz, R&B, pop, blues and even country have endeared her to thousands of fans from her hometown to clubs and festivals throughout the U.S., received a nomination for International Vocalist of the Year from the WAVE Awards, formerly known as the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. In addition to receiving significant airplay on many terrestrial contemporary jazz stations and internet radio formats, her song “When It Comes From The Heart” (a bonus track on Time Signatures) was featured in the documentary “When It Comes From The Heart – The Journey of a Song,” which premiered at the Naperville (Illinois) Independent Film Festival.

While Carmichael and Gilderdale appear on every track of Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy, the project also marks another inspiring collaboration between the singer and her longtime co-writer and producer Jim Peterik.  A longtime fan of the guitar duo, Peterik is the driving force behind the CD and produced and wrote the uplifting lyrics to each song.  “I hope you can hear that joy we both feel at the unique privilege of collaborating with AA on this album,” he says. “Working with Lisa over the last 7 years has been a life- changing experience. Just when I thought my biggest musical thrills were behind me, she came along and changed the game. Her beautiful spirit and divine voice opened up music in me  I never knew I had inside.”

Peterik is the legendary Grammy and Oscar winning singer/songwriter (“Eye Of The Tiger”) and renowned in pop history for his founding roles with the super rock groups The Ides of March and Survivor.  Peterik also produced McClowry’s Time Signatures and his own critically acclaimed all-star Jim Peterik Lifeforce CDs, most recently Forces At Play (2011).

The spark that evolved into this extraordinary musical journey came at a show McClowry opened for Acoustic Alchemy at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Peterik, who had only heard AA perform live once before, hung out backstage with their manager, Stewart Coxhead. After the show, he joined Coxhead, Carmichael and Gilderdale for a chat. Peterik told them he had always dreamed of putting lyrics to the early Acoustic Alchemy song “Overnight Sleeper” (from 1988’s Natural Elements)—and they urged him to have a “go at it.” He actually didn’t recall the title but “sang” the melody to them. Rising to the challenge of restructuring the instrumental into a pop format, Peterik wrote the high spirited “Sleepless Night” about emerging from a time of restless nights and embracing love again.

Acoustic Alchemy loved the recording featuring McClowry’s vocals and what began as a potential single track on the singer’s next album quickly blossomed into a full-fledged project. Peterik recorded a skeletal version of each song at his Chicago studio with keyboards, bass and drums. He then sent the tracks to Carmichael and Gilderdale, who overlaid their guitar parts at their studio near London. McClowry worked her interpretive vocal magic after Peterik had completed the instrumental tracks.

“The funny thing is that Jim wrote about ‘Someone else’s sleepless night’ but had forgotten that the original title of the song had the word ‘sleeper’ in it,” says Lisa. “That song came out perfectly and as the concept for a whole album started taking shape, I started listening more deeply to Acoustic Alchemy’s music and soon became as big a fan as Jim is! I was blown away by the sensitivity and sophistication of their playing. I was more than happy to start putting my heart into this concept. Jim started writing and I loved every lyric he came up with. My voice felt like a natural fit for these melodies and his words were wonderful and inspiring.

“All the songs have such a positive energy both musically and lyrically,” she says. “But that’s always been a hallmark of the way we collaborate, seeing the hopeful side of life, the light at the end of the tunnel. I love the range I get to explore vocally in these melodies and add a lot more vocal coloring than I was able to on my previous album. I also have a background in dance and think these songs lend themselves to a lot of great movement and choreography when I perform them live.”

Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy gets off to an energetic start with the funky pop-gospel flavored drive time jam “Got To Share This Feeling,” adapted from “Aart Attack.” McClowry’s infectious enthusiasm continues on the bluesy gospel vocal rocker “Knocking At The Door,” which features lively horns, a playful keyboard solo and a choir backing the singer’s fiery lead vocals. McClowry’s soulful and jazzy vocals over the dancing guitar melody of “Beautiful Mess” (from “No Messin’”) convey a quirky reflection of life and the ability of us all to make it through complicated situations. Taking her cue from a Frank Sinatra song with a similar title, the singer infuses the snappy “Best Is Yet To Come” (from “Ariane”) with a lighthearted reminder about darkness preceding the dawn and the possibility of new beginnings. Continuing on that theme, the tropical, samba flavored “Celebration Day” (from “Playing For Time”) finds McClowry toasting the happy times ahead after putting the bad days behind her.
The rousing “Brand New Hallelujah” is an explosive gospel-influenced rocker that was adapted from the instrumental song “Passionelle:” it is also the album’s first video. This track is  followed by “Teach You Tonight,”  the easy pop-rocker “Sleepless Night,” the soul ballad “Come Inside” (from “Love Is All There Is”) and “Love Me Back Home,” a song driven by a swirl of pop, blues and country influences.

Perfectly in line with the joyous vibe of the project, Lisa McClowry’s emergence into national prominence follows years of being a whirlwind force of musical nature since the mid-90s in her native Chicago.   Well known for her regular stellar performances at the hot spots in town, she’s honed a unique style that is incorporated in many of the elements she brings to Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy: pop, blues, funk, jazz and rock. A self admitted “bit of a chameleon,” her voice can also be heard on national TV commercials for Applebee’s (“Eating Good in the Neighborhood”) and TRESemme shampoos and conditioners (“TREsemme, ooh la la!”).

In the late 90s, while McClowry was initially pursuing her recording dreams, she expanded her scope to include songs for animated films. Working on her debut indie CD Spyglass Hill at Mutato Muzika, the Sunset Blvd. studio of Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame, she was invited by the veteran singer to record and co-write a song for his latest movie soundtrack, “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.” That song “Though the Eyes of a Child,” was also included on her solo album. McClowry then worked with Mothersbaugh on the soundtrack to “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie,” for which she provided the voice of the Princess.

Just as she was about to release Time Signatures in 2010, McClowry returned to her acting roots, co-starring in a narrative short film that included a four-minute dance sequence/music video at Joseph’s CafĂ© in Hollywood in a segment titled “Vampire’s Dance” for the new “Twisted Tales” series by horror legend Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Fright Night). The video, “Born Twice,” can be viewed at lisamcclowry.com.

“The best part of making music is always the people you are working with,” McClowry says. “While Jim continues to play an instrumental role in my growth as an artist, this time it was so exciting to work with Greg and Miles from Acoustic Alchemy, whose music has inspired a project that was both a great challenge for me as a vocalist and a true joy to record. I loved the way their music lent itself to me showing greater range and exploring exciting new things. The process of making the album was great fun from start to finish, and between recording over their wonderful guitar work and all he email exchanges, we developed a true artistic synergy which I’m looking forward to developing as we perform together this year.”

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