“Holy wow! What a voice, what a performance.... She had a commanding stage presence and a control of dynamics that actually made my jaw drop making me grin like an idiot.... if you have not heard of her, get on that, because she was absolutely phenomenal!” The AU Review (Australia), selected as best 15 acts to see of 150 act international festival.
International touring artist Ann Vriend (AV), has not yet been home for 30 consecutive days this year, having performed in seven different countries since January, 2016. Her 2014 critically acclaimed, retro-soul album For The People In The Mean Time has kept her extremely busy. It was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the Toronto Independent Music Awards (despite Vriend's residence in Edmonton), and songs from the album did well on Australian radio; getting into rotation on ABC and Triple J, where “A Need So Wide” made the nomination list for the Top 100 Songs of 2015. Accolades in Canada included song placements in commercials and short films, plus Vriend and her band “The Rooster Davis Group” won two blues awards – Best Self Produced Album, and Northern Alberta Regional Winners of the Memphis Blues Challenge 2016, were semi-finalists in the 2016 Memphis Blues Challenge, and spent June and July playing the Albertan blues and roots festival circuit.
Even with that frenzied schedule Vriend found time to get into the studio. Having recently signed with Toronto’s Aporia Records, she will release a new single “Anybody’s Different” on September 16, 2016. It will be the first of many soul/pop songs that will lead to an EP release in February, 2017 followed by a full album release. The songs are produced by Tino Zolfo – a soul bassist himself, back in the day – and like Vriend’s last collection of tunes, they have a retro ‘70s soul sound to them, while simultaneously belonging comfortably on any playlist alongside contemporary soul/pop artists such as Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams, Amy Winehouse, Meghan Trainor or Adele.
“Anybody’s Different” is a powerful, epic, minor key soul/pop song, sonically reminiscent of Adele’s “Skyfall,” though faster-paced. Lyrically, it addresses current, globally relevant news regarding political division, the refugee crisis, gun violence, religious extremism. All this is achieved within a three-minute song, making strong use of rhyme, repetition, and simple, image-invoking words.
Vriend says she wrote the song “About as fast as it took to play it from start to finish.” But not until she’d first thrown out a lot of half-finished songs on the topic, that she wasn’t happy with. She found it a challenge though, to write about something so topical and politically charged without sounding “preachy, judgemental, or overly simplistic.” She continues, “All these issues have complicated histories, and I don’t pretend to be the one person on the planet who has figured out 10 easy steps to achieving world peace or something. Obviously if it was that easy it would have been done by now. But that doesn’t mean that I am not deeply saddened and angered by the devastating side effects of power struggles and greed, and how easily people are manipulated and sacrificed for that.”
Finally, Vriend decided to base the song on her own observations as a world traveller, and her personal experiences with so many people from different cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, etc. The song simply covers the many ways in which we are all fundamentally the same, and asks a few poignant questions such as, “Was there a time when killing was wrong, no matter what Book you read, no matter what side you were on?” It is a song that reminds us all that human rights are exactly that, stating, “I don’t believe you if you say anybody’s different.”
Ann Vriend’s tracks