Back Alley Porch
REVIEWS 'Babe's voice is as appealing as her name is unique. -- Canada AM ----------------- **** 5 Stars out of 5 - A Gem! 'What a gem! There's something to be said for doing it your way and this has certainly paid off. No changes needed-just sit back and listen to it right through. I suppose you could call it Roots but with spot on playing, the melodies are captivating and one of 'those' voices... Another Canadian winner!!' James Williams - Independent Record Store Mail Order Manager, New Zealand ----------------- Music: CD Reviews Marke Andrews Vancouver Sun Thursday, March 31, 2005 BABE GURR Back Alley Porch Self-released Rating 3 1/2 (out of 4) Vancouver singer-songwriter Babe Gurr knows how to craft her tunes. Back Alley Porch, Gurr's third CD, had nine original tunes (plus Neil Young's Tell Me Why), and all nine have catchy melodies and arrangements that cry out for radio play. A prime example is the opening Home With Me, a rootsy song with pop sensibilities, a melody with a good hook and lyrics reflecting what all of us have felt at some time in our lives: 'too many nights without company.' Gurr sings with a down-home quality that could have her in her kitchen singing, but also with a sensuality which could transport her to more intimate parts of the home. Love That, with solid Hammond organ playing by Rick Hopkins, has a seductiveness as Gurr sings about making love in the great outdoors. The cast of supporting players is a solid one, and includes Ian Cameron on violin and mandolin, Roy Forbes on guitar, John Ellis on guitar and dobro and Steve Dawson on Hawaiian guitar and banjo. -- Marke Andrews ----------------- 'Further testament to Vancouver's thriving roots/country scene, Back Alley Porch is a strong release from our very own Babe Gurr. Since the first time I heard Newsreel Paranoia I can't get it out of my head as this is a track with 'radio hit' written all over it. Her killer version of Neil Young's Tell Me Why is another standout as she takes a classic and makes it her own and when you consider whose song it is, that's saying something. All in all, a fine album from beginning to end mixing country/roots twang with pop sensibilities and great musicianship.' Marty Sills- Richmond News- Entertainment Critic ----------------- 'Once you hear her name, you'll likely remember it. Once you hear her music, you'll make a point of it.' -- Carolyn Cooke, The Now Newspaper ----------------- Babe's exceptional Porch John P. McLaughlin The Province Thursday, March 31, 2005 Babe Gurr CD Release - Back Alley Porch East Vancouver's Babe Gurr has a brand new album out called Back Alley Porch which, come to think of it, has a sweet, kind of rootsy East Vancouver feel to the name. You can almost see the trusty 10-speed propped up in a corner of the porch out back. There's a cracked frame hanging from a nail, a steaming mug of java on the railing and a kitchen chair dragged out into the sun where an old Gibson is being tuned up. A dude in Rasta dreads stops by the gate to listen a while, smiling. East Van. Back Alley Porch is the record Babe Gurr -- her unusual name comes from a derivation of her family nickname, Baby Sister -- always wanted to make. She hasn't changed her writing style much and the vocal delivery is pretty much the same but the instrumentation has gone from straight pop to rootsy-acoustic. Some great local players have sat in for this project, including bassists Rob Becker and Keith Lowe, drummer/percussionist Elliot Polsky and varying sorts of power pickers from Lee Warden and Steve Dawson to David Sinclair -- he'll be on stage tonight -- and Roy Forbes. Heavy company, that. Which brings us to the other big departure, at least on paper, for this fourth Gurr album: she hired all the players, figured out the arrangements, instrumentation, harmonies -- in short, she produced the thing. That is, she finally took credit for producing the thing. She produced her last Fade to Bright album as well but wouldn't put it in the liner notes. 'I was kind of nervous about the ramifications,' says Gurr. 'You know, it seems so acceptable with guys producing themselves but it's not like very many women do it. And I thought at the time, if I was going to chase after grants and radio I figured they'll look at this and they'll automatically have a pre-set idea that it's not very good because a woman produced it -- not only a woman but the woman who wrote the songs.' It's an exceptionally good-sounding record, especially on the rich, ringing guitars, banjo, Sinclair's laudin (lute) and mandolin. To prepare she checked out Steve Dawson's work on Jim Byrnes' Fresh Horses album and researched old Alison Krauss records. It shows. In fact, as she busies herself promoting Back Alley Porch, Gurr has taken on an outside production job for local singer Katie Donnelly. Whatever else she might do for Donnelly, she won't have her tailor her sound to suit the tastes of radio programmers. In her pop incarnation, Gurr spent years letting producers persuade her that was the way to go, to slavishly ape the sounds and feels on current hit records. Did it get her the airplay? 'No, it didn't,' she laughs. 'I did get on radio but it was for the more rootsy-oriented tunes. There you go. You spend all this time and money and it's wasted. I'd even take a pre-mix into a radio programmer and I was getting just too influenced by what they said -- put in a clap machine, make it more dense, on and on. I got my head spun around so much I just thought, 'Oh, forget it. I'm gonna make this album exactly how I want to make it and just go from there.' And I did.' firstname.lastname@example.org © The Vancouver Province 2005 ----------------- BABE GURR BIO Babe's music has been described as honest, rootsy and real. She continually captivates audiences by delivering powerful stories to thoughtful music. Experiencing her engaging personality in concert is a treat, and discovering her playful and keen sense of humour is always a delight. Keeping with the tradition of Babe's previous discs, her latest collection of songs feature a powerful yet sensitive singer with material to match. She is routinely compared to singer-songwriters like Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin and Sheryl Crow - but retains her own unique acoustic roots sound and style. The music on Babe's new disc entitled 'Back Alley Porch' conjures an image of sitting on your back alley city porch, with the sun going down, and listening to the rich sounds of roots-influenced music. The CD has a fresh, yet familiar sound and will take the listener to many places. Babe's warm but powerful voice is beautifully showcased with the stripped down sounds on this album which is a unique blend of roots, pop and country. 'Back Alley Porch' features a wide array of talented musicians including Steve Dawson (Zubot & Dawson), Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple/Jim Byrnes), Roy Forbes, Rob Becker (Patricia Conroy) and David Sinclair (Sarah McLachlan/kd lang). Her 2003 release 'Fade to Bright' offered the listener a glimpse into the personal and artistic growth of this very talented performer. Babe's other previously released independent CDs 'Velvet Dust' and 'A Drink of Life garnered radio airplay across Canada and her music video received exposure on Muchmusic, CMT and Quebec's Musimax. Her CD 'A Drink of Life' remained on the Top 3 on HMV Record's INDIE CHARTS for over 20 WEEKS. Babe has been the support act for various artists throughout the past years, including Amanda Marshall, Amy Sky, Colin Hay (from Men at Work), J. Gaines & The Soul Attorneys, Luka Bloom, Barney Bentall and Grapes of Wrath and has headlined at numerous festivals including Toronto's Harbourfont Music Series, Victoria Folkfest and First Night. Concert highlights include performances at CBGBs and Sin-é (New York), Royal Theatre (Victoria), The Backstage (Seattle), Jack Singer Hall (Calgary), Vogue Theatre, Stanley Theatre and The Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver). Her tunes have been licensed for various shows including the U.S. FOX series 'Higher Ground' which has brought her music to audiences worldwide. Babe appeared on the television show 'Big Sound' as an actress, playing an avant-garde lounge singer and has been a guest on many national shows such as Canada AM and The Jim Byrnes Show. Although named Carol by her parents, it was Babe's older brother who coined her nickname. For years he would refer to her only as 'Baby Sister'. Eventually she became known to family and friends simply as Babe. It's a name that is becoming familiar to many more fans each day, people who appreciate finely crafted songs performed with sincerity. -----------------.