After five studio albums and fifteen years since her debut, Chantal Kreviazuk has finally taken her discography out of the studio and in front of an audience for her first live compilation album. A seasoned performer who is often entertaining, quite blunt but has the ability to show off her awesome musical abilities at the piano while wailing her intensely strong vocals, it’s about time. The compilation, however, unimaginatively called In This Life, recalls too much of what is to be expected from Chantal while leaving out the best.
In This Life, as you may recall, is the title of one of her bigger hits from ten years ago. Using the same title for an HBO Canada recording feels a bit stale, as if she’s unable to move on from that period of heightened success that she hasn’t been able to attain since, even though her most ambitious and arguably best record came in the time since with 2006’s Ghost Stories – though none of those tracks are included on this collection.
Some of the songs on this compilation include her familiar classics like her early hit Surrounded and her Randy Newman-penned cover Feels Like Home, both of which suffer under Chantal’s attempts at changing them up ever-so-slightly, wavering the melodies and lyrics as if to make them differ from their original recordings. This results in awkwardly performed lines that are sometimes hard to follow. Unnecessary considering the songs are performed with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra who, more often than not, add a pleasant touch that would have fit with the songs in their original form.
Of the remaining tracks on the album, there are some surprises in the set list with the appearance of several songs from earlier in her career including the touching Eve and one of her original love songs to Raine Maida, Until We Die. The latter, of course, isn’t too unexpected since Chantal has evolved from an edgy piano rocker to a safe adult contemporary singer/songwriter who uses any opportunity to bring up her husband during performances. In the case of this album, a whole track is dedicated to talking about her husband before introducing 5000 Days, which is about… her husband. While her fan-base might be mostly middle-aged women at this point, all of the family talk doesn’t give much welcome to anyone else who might be attendance. If The View needed a singing co-host, Chantal could be the woman for the job.
In This Life doesn’t quite hit the spot as a collection of songs from one of Canada’s best singer/songwriters during the turn of the century. While she was never incredibly adventurous with her music, Chantal Kreviazuk was always reliable to provide impressive melodies, great piano hooks and strong vocals. In This Life is a case of been there, done that, so what?
2. Feels Like Home
4. 5000 Days
7. Half Of Me
8. Until We Die
10. Need Anyone
11. Plain Jane
12. In This Life
13. Leaving On A Jet Plane