6BN-Angel Corona

 6 March 2016
Written by Sean Willoughby 

Angel's 11: New Album Release Party and Show at the Corona

Photo by Phil Brisse
Angel Forrest will be performing this Friday, March 11th, at the Corona Theater in Montreal as part of her CD launch for Angel’s 11 which will be released that same day. Multiple guests that appear on the CD will be present so come one, come all, as this promises to be a great show, on a day that also just happens to be Angel's birthday. For those of you not able to attend the show, it will be streamed live online at Live Toune.
If you find that Angel Number 11 is guiding you, then external forces are telling you that you are about to begin an exciting new stage. New opportunities are open to you, and you will have the ability to pursue your dreams. This number represents creativity, and presents itself to innovative individuals. 
So what’s a gal to do after celebrating 25 years in the biz and releasing a great album entitled Mother Tongue Blues and then following that up with a double live CD Live Love? Her soul tells her it's time do something different but she's not quite sure what. As life rolls along, there's a constant that keeps revealing itself which seems insignificant at first. But whether looking at the time, a price tag, a reserved seat, or even her birthday, the number "11" seems to always be present in some shape or form. With that the seeds were sown for her next recording effort.

When Angel Forrest mentioned her gravitation to the number “11” to life partner Denis Coulombe it sparked a reaction out of the two musicians. Coulombe instantly imagined a drawing in his head and was soon hard at work transferring the image to a physical state. Once done, the number “11” and the art work inspired the pair and the name of the project, Angel’s 11, was born. The twosome were soon brainstorming ideas. At one point Forrest was reminiscing about guitarists that had in some way been a part of her career. She has always had a good rapport with her guitarists and fed off their vibe. That’s when the idea hit them like a missile. With “11” being such a prominent number in Forrest’s life, why not design an album based around eleven guitarists? Forrest’s next steps? Call in some favours, owe some favours, send some loving invitations, blackmail a select few, and get with a who’s who of guitarists from her past and present, letting them know that they would be appearing on her next project. A killer idea that has paid off in spades. The axemen on the hit list and that appear on ‘Angel’s 11’ are as follows; Johnny Flash, Rob MacDonald, Steve Strongman, Ricky Paquette, Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre, Paul DesLauriers, Kim Greenwood, Corey Diabo, Shane Murphy, Steve Hill, and Adam Karch. 
With a project this size, with so many people involved, Forrest and Coulombe could have taken the easy way out and recorded a load of covers. Instead the pair hunkered down and wrote the songs themselves, preferring to create originals which would allow them to pay homage to the specific guitarist. As each song emerged the two writers instantly knew who the track would be destined to. All the pieces were falling together perfectly.
I initially listened to the album blind, not wanting to know which guitarist played on which song. Although I could not pinpoint each guitarist, I could definitely detect the differences in style on the tracks. Like an all-star game of six stringers, each guitarist validates why they were chosen to appear on the recording and lend their distinctiveness to their particular songs. Of the eleven tracks, nine are in the electric form, while Adam Karch and Paul DesLauriers display their talents acoustically on You and I and Goodbye, respectively. On the electric side the boys tackle their chores tactfully. Forrest let each of her guest guitarists know what feeling she was trying to convey on their chosen tracks and then let them take care of business.
For his part, Coulombe is not only the musical director, co-writer, bass player, acoustic rhythm guitar player, but he also takes a stab at playing trumpet, as well as performing backing vocals (done perfectly on You and I). As if all that weren't enough, he also designed the cover as well as the exquisite liner notes. The cover artwork is the photo of the side of a wooden barn with all eleven guitarists’ names randomly etched in the wood, surrounding a set of wings representing Forrest. The insert has a dedicated page for each song with the lyrics and an accompanying picture of the featured guitarist. Coulombe's fingerprints are all over this project.
Listening to the album, there’s an obvious chemistry with the guitarists Forrest has played with on a more regular basis over the last few years. Hold on Tight, Goodbye, and Tumbleweed are examples of that. That being said, the vibes emitted with Forrest’s habitual guitarists must have been cooped up in the studio, as the other cameos held their own and then some on their selected tracks. Forrest explained that all the guitarists made their way to the studio and all the recording was done in a live setting to give it that extra warmth as opposed to having files transferred back and forth digitally. An additional step making the logistics that much more complicated, but well worth the effort.  
With the six-stringers grabbing their share of the plaudits, there’s a common denominator that flows through on each song, bringing the project into focus; the vocal delivery of Forrest. Whether she’s going for a bit of a country feel as on Hangman or a rocker like Touch of My Hand to the blues-soul of Let me Go, the girl has it covered and puts her stamp on the overall recording. Hey, it was her party after all! I’ve always enjoyed Forrest’s softer side and she does not disappoint on Tumbleweed and You and I. Those are the type of songs where the vocals completely sell it. Oh did I mention Spoil Me Up? Not sure if Forrest and Strongman were trying to outdo each other, but wow…amazing jazzy feel and quite the seductive vocal performance.
The result of this release is a bouquet of fine crafted offerings. Well played guitar from tracks one through eleven, all grounded by Forrest who absorbed the electricity the others radiated and channeled it through her own performance. Have a listen and "turn it up to 11."
Photos: many, but not all, of the collaborators on the new album; Ricky Paquette, Johnny Flash, Sylvain Coulombe, Sylvain/Angel/Alec, Alec/JS/Denis/Angel, Alec McElcheran, Paul DesLauriers, Kim Greenwood, Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre, Corey Diabo, Steve Hill, Steve Strongman, Adam Karch, Shane Murphy, Rob MacDonald.
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