NOD TO CLASSICS - Singer/songwriter Jann Arden includes Red Deer on her current tour to promote her latest project Uncover Me 2. She performs at the Memorial Centre Feb. 24.

Jann Arden offers personal spin on classic tunes

Songstress embarks on tour to support Uncover Me 2

Singer Jann Arden has again put her unmistakable stylish stamp on a collection of classic tunes with her latest CD Uncover Me 2.

Local audiences can sit back and relish the exquisite results when she performs at the Memorial Centre on Feb. 24. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Her initial ode to classic pop standards – Uncover Me — hit shelves a few years back and truly struck a chord with fans. Things get off to a rousing, superb start with Bring The Boys Home – originally recorded in 1971 in response to the Vietnam war.

Other highlights from that project included California Dreamin’, Peace Train and the haunting coming of age tune At Seventeen.

This time around she covers tunes from a diverse group ranging from The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and The Everly Brothers to Doris Day, Benny Goodman and Lesley Gore.

Choosing from an endless catalogue of superb tunes is a formidable challenge, but Arden had a little help along the way.

“These are songs I loved while growing up, but I had some great suggestions from Bruce (Allen) and Bob (Rock),” she explains. “They brought songs to the table that I wouldn’t have considered in a million years. These are all songs that people can relate to. I hope people find a little bit of themselves listening to it. I hope they recall an old memory.”

As Arden has pointed out before, much of what we hear today won’t be remembered for long. But stuff penned in the 50s, 60s and 70s seems to capture not just a raw musical integrity, but the right balance of vulnerability and joy. Artists back then knew the secret of merging personal experiences with technique.

Meanwhile, Uncover Me 2 began with a meeting in Vancouver last year between Arden and her manager Bruce Allen who had introduced her earlier to producer Bob Rock.

“The great thing about her is that she is very brazen,” explains Rock. “I threw challenges at her, and she never wavered. On this album, I challenged her with the range that she had to sing in; and the power that she had to sing in. I was thinking anything from Dusty Springfield to Shirley Bassey. That’s what I wanted. A real singer’s singer.”

For Uncover Me 2, Arden opted out of co-producing; she was more than happy to give the creative reigns to Rock. “I had just finished writing my memoir and I was tired. I just let him do his job. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. I just love the album.”

In Canada, Rock is well-known for his own band The Payola$ that split in 1986. He built an international reputation in the 1980s while he was an engineer at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Sound, and in 1988, he switched to producing, overseeing projects for groups including Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and Metallica. In recent years, he has produced Bryan Adams, Michael Buble, The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan among others.

In narrowing down selections for Uncover Me 2, Arden started chatting down the phone line with Rock, sketching out ideas for each song. He suggested working with a different band than she had used on past recordings. He knew the strictly A-list players he wanted for the sessions at The Warehouse Studios in Vancouver.

Arden brought in Glory of Love, a number one hit for bandleader Benny Goodman in 1936. “I’m not fond of the slow ballad (versions) of Glory of Love; I wanted to do something fun, and not what people are used to me singing. I love the drums on it. I love the sassiness of it. It is just two minutes of fun.”

Que Sera Sera, introduced in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much, may be the album’s most ‘unexpected’ track.

“I grew up with that tune. It’s one that I brought to the table. I think everybody thought that I was stark raving mad. Bob pumped some life into it. Just the piano riff that he had going. That just really clipped it along.”

Born in 1962 in Calgary, Arden has been performing since she was 14. She made waves nationally with her debut CD Time For Mercy in 1993.

She has released 11 highly-acclaimed albums; has had 17 top 10 singles, including I Would Die for You, Could I Be Your Girl and Insensitive and has won eight Juno Awards.

“I think that what resonates with Canadians is that I really haven’t changed. I am exactly who you see,” she expains. “I haven’t created a persona. I treat people decently.

“There’s no screaming or anything like that,” she says. “People just want to say hello, and tell me how they are connected to me, and where they heard a song. It’s like running into friends from high school.”

For tickets, call Ticket Central at 403-347-0800 or visit or by email at: ticketcentral@centralalbertatheatre.ca. For more information, check out www.centralalbertatheatre.ca.

-Weber