Saturday, May 29, 2010

JANN ARDEN - "I Would Die For You" LIVE

The title's intentionally confusing, because so is Jann Arden. She titled her "greatest hits" album "Greatest Hurts," and sings in a pained nasal voice that sounds like a whinge and a prayer. Yet she has a great sense of humor and her live shows are liberally sprinkled with witty bits between the laments.

The Canadian artist seemed to ardently take up where Janis Ian left off…with chilly ballads like "Insensitive," sung directly to an offending oaf with acid articulation and an unflinching sense of righteous martyrdom. It was on her breakthrough 1994 release "Living Under June," which included the title ballad…a tense rant at the slut upstairs, rendered slightly seriocomic by a list of Arden's frustrations that includes her cat dying "and that's not all." Jann's bank account profited from LeeAnne Rimes covering "Insensitive" in 1998.

"I Would Die For You" appeared on her stunning debut disc "Time for Mercy." It was hard for her to follow such a potent one-two punch as those two albums were, but in 1995 she offered "If It Be Your Will" on the Leonard Cohen tribute album "Tower of Song," and gave fans a worthy new album via 1997's wryly titled "Happy?" which had a cover shot of the weighty diva sucking her thumb.

Her best songs from that era had a bit of the "stepped on cat" sound to them, even when they were sweet and positive…thanks to those annoyed adenoids of hers that always seem to add a little caustic twang to a lyric line.

Just how brilliant her tortured tonsils were, can be heard on this live track which is on an obscure DVD featuring various Canadian artists performing at a patriotic annual gala ("Canada Day"). Jann emerges from the shadows (actually the lighting director's mistake) to sing to an audience of war veterans, "I would die for you…" and ram it home with a series of agonized "yeah…yeah…yeah's."

Fortunately, in a way, Jann's lightened up. Literally. She's gone from brunette to blonde. Fans enjoyed her relaxed presence at "Live 8 Toronto" (which also featured the return of craggy Gordon Lightfoot and was part of the worldwide July weekend "Live 8" concert series). In 2006 the former Jann Arden Richards shed 50 pounds, which may have been a little too much. In 2007 she was hospitalized for heart problems. The same year she issued an album of cover versions, and last year, back to brunette, released her 10th album, which perhaps acknowledging the way most people were going to get it via the Internet, was named "Free." She's enough of a cult cutie to not only remain hugely popular in the land of Juno Awards (she owns 19 of those Canadian baubles) but to enjoy sold-out shows when she chooses to tour the States.

Here's early, deliciously sweet and sour Jann Arden offering both a pop-sugar refrain ("I would die for you") and those edgy, chilling "yeah yeah yeah's" that tell you she's SO not kidding around. "Living Under June" would be your next step, an album that may have more .99 copies available on eBay than any other on the site.
I would DIE for you, LIVE on "Canada Day" Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, pop-unders, wait time or porn ads.

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