Well, who would have thought it—Vancouver’s “piano pop laureate” Ann Vriend a former spy? But that’s what the Canadian singer/songwriter would have you believe on her third full-length album, When We Were Spies. The thematic conceit allows her to chart a covert love affair through songs filled with clandestine meetings, double-speak and one-way glass, while billowing strings, lush electro-pop synth arrangements, tinkling piano and, the best instrument of all, her jazzy, impassioned country-soul voice rise up from the intimate surroudings of her previous outings and take on a widescreen quality in keeping with the pop-noir story of a shadowy femme fatale. There are brief moments on the record when you’d wish the moody, ‘80s synth-swirl had been turned down a notch (especially on “Start Over” and “Hallowe’en”). However, these are minor quibbles easily forgotten as Vriend sets her sensual vocal chords free with double-track abandon on swooning opener “(If We Are Not) Spies”, lends a certain freewheeling panache to the verses of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and delivers a exquisite slice of torch-singer vulnerability on “St. Paul”. This is one well-kept secret that everyone should have access to.
// Sound Affects
"The man whose songs were recorded by Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, David Allan Coe, The Highwaymen, and countless others succumbs to time’s cruel cue that the only token of permanence we have to offer are the effects of shared moments and memories.READ the article