I am a big fan of artist collaborations: when done well, they can bring a whole new perspective to an original work of art. I especially like it when poets and musicians get together, because I feel the mediums naturally flow well with one another and the results are often epic. And even when they’re not, I dig the idea of artists collectively creating. Maybe it’s the romantic in me or the fact that I always have so much fun when I do it myself, but a couple of artists sitting around, inspiring each other, and throwing out ideas makes me very happy indeed.
In the case of Diane Barbarash’s new album, River, a collaboration between the musician and poet Allison Grayhurst, the results are excellent. According to Barbarash’s website, the singer was inspired to write the songs after reading the poet’s work: “Last New Year’s Eve I found myself engaged in one of Allison’s poetry books and in a moment of pure inspiration I reached for my guitar, and the first song fell out.”
While the poet and musician have known one another for years, this is their first attempt at a collaboration, which they apparently did through a series of MP3 and Word doc files while living 3,000 miles apart. The results are impressive and I truly hope the two artists try this again in the future: I, for one, just can’t get enough of Barbarash’s beautiful, haunting voice adding a new take on Grayhurst’s powerful poetry.
This is the perfect album for a slow winter’s day: make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine, kick back on your sofa in front of a warm fireplace, and enjoy the evocative ride.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems were nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2015, and one eight-part story-poem was nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017. She has over 1125 poems published in more than 450 international journals and anthologies.
Diane Barbarash was writing songs long before learning how to play guitar at thirteen. She was an active singer-songwriter in Toronto’s folk club circuit before moving to Vancouver where she perused her love of recording. She has released three albums prior to River, however she considers River her true debut.