Refuge

Jennifer Berezan

(EW 10)

Edge of Wonder Records
1460 Cornell Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

_

Jennifer Berezan occupies a space and a talent all her own. Sounding like no one else, her beautifully expressive alto possesses a higher register that takes us deep inside those secret places where pain and heartache, as well as great joy and love dwell side by side.

Refuge is the work of a mature artist at her best. Dipping into folk, pop, blues and a bit of country, Berezan blends these sounds into her own special mix. Whether exploring the uncertainties of love, or the physical terrain of the Canadian prairies, Berezan's stunning vocals, skilled guitar work and poetic lyrics are sure to move us.

The opening cut, Refuge, is a fitting introduction to Berezan's work. A tribute to the places we go to find security and comfort, Berezan describes

Walking home under Northern lights
You could see clear cross world to the other side
The snow fell so still like music to the ground
And I'd take refuge in that holy sound.
Crazy Saints tells the story of a woman gone mad who lives in a mythical world of her own making. Its lovely, haunting melody is backed by superb work on both acoustic guitar and drums. Berezan pays tribute to the place she grew up in the gentle, lulling country-folk song, Alberta Moon. Nina Gerber provides articulate guitar accompaniment with Chris Webster and Anthony J. Costello on fine backing vocals.

Evie, the recording's best cut, is a stunningly beautiful love song about a young woman's love for another. It is a perfect vehicle for Berezan's passionate vocals and expressive lyrics:

I know a place that we can run to
I read about it it's far away
Somewhere a world that we belong to
Evie what do you say?
The upbeat Home to You fuses elements of blues, pop and folk into a delightful mix of acoustic guitars, dobro and percussion. Home is the songwriter's refuge, with the lover who waits for her there.

The power and insecurity of love is the territory that Berezan knows best. Whether You Go, featuring delicate guitar work and an understated cello by Jami Sieber, details the emotions of a love that is hard to hold onto. The Woman I Am asks the question "can love survive the storms that life occasionally throws in its way?" Whatever the outcome, with a voice as lovely as Berezan's we are sure to be listening.

Another of the recording's most memorable songs, If I Can't Dance is an uplifting, celebratory romp which addresses joy in the face of any kind of pain or sorrow.

Life is a cup of water
from which we're all drinking
And whether it's half full or empty
depends on your thinking
Cause beauty and terror are racing wherever you go
But if I can't dance
I don't want to be part of that show.

A wonderful instrumental gig at the bridge, and the perfect backing vocals of Anthony J. Costello and Chris Webster once again make this tune special.

Closing the recording is a bluesy number, Call It the Blue Sky, which recalls a loved one who is away and deeply missed. This is Berezan at her wonderfully expressive best, and a fitting close to a beautiful collection of songs.

Production by Anthony J. Costello and Jennifer Berezan herself is right on target. The musical accompaniment and backing vocals provide the best possible backdrop for both Berezan's expressive vocals and skill on acoustic guitar. Jennifer Berezan is the perfect chanteuse to love by, to listen to, and to be moved by. It's all there for the listening: the gorgeous alto, the poetic lyrics and the wonderful guitar work. Take a few moments and fall in love.

Edited by Jeff Wenning

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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