Artist: Danielle French
CD Review: PIECE
By: Dan Brisebois

This Calgary native is steadily making a name for herself across North America as one of the most refreshing takes on the pop scene in recent years. Melodic and well-thought out, PIECE is her third disc and it's putting a new face on the old traditions of modern music.

Over 3 years between albums has allowed her the time to grow as an artist and this could very well be her break-out. Her hypnotic passion strikes you from the opening lines of the lead-off "As The Crow Flies". The lyrics themselves are a gem, full of soul and emotion, indicative of the entire album. Danielle's influences are apparent and numerous, as a number of helping hands show up on the disc. Don Kerr (ex Rheostatics and Ron Sexsmith), Paul MacLeod of the Skydiggers and Jonathon Lewis of The Plaid Tongued Devils are just some of the who's who. But it's the cameo from legend Burton Cummings that naturally gets the most attention. One of Canadian pop's sleeper hits of the year is "To The Death", their sort of gypsy melody that provokes a second listening, then a third ... and so on ...

With the exception of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill", the album is a collection of original works that are a culmination of life experiences - personal and intimate, yet still broad appealing. With the Bush cover Danielle manages to stick with the original, yet still put her own mark on it, adding an even more haunting feel to a song that already bordered on brooding.

With John Sorensen (Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck) behind the controls, she's managed to capture an exceptional bit of pop, masterfully produced and sure to make labels take notice. Full of restrained vigor, it's cross-over between the pop and folk worlds is staggering. In fact, she's played a number of folk festivals in her career. She's showcased her talents on some of the biggest stages in North America, including an appearance at the 1997 Lilith Fair, opening for the likes of Gowan, Barenaked Ladies, Melanie Doane and Holly Cole and guesting on Rita McNeil's CBC variety show.

She's taken her time, making sure she got it right, a balladeer that takes her art seriously. She could very well be the next Arden, Siberry or McLaughlin. "Howard's Song" and "I Will Not Fall" both showcase an album full of highlights. Her ability to avoid the mainstream cycle but still gain credibility for her unique approach is rare and refreshing. This rising star's sky is the limit. Her world is her artistic backdrop. Pay attention ... you'll be hearing more from Danielle when the traditional stigmas come around to her way of thinking.