Canadian songstress Ann Vriend is following up the success of her recent pop/soul long player For The People In The Mean Time with a catchy soul/funk single You Can Have Me, chosen specifically for release in Australia this May. After a successful tour down under at the start of 2015, it was quickly evident that Ann’s rapidly growing fanbase missed the pint-sized singer- songwriter, so she hand-picked one of her favourite tracks from the album to share with music lovers.
The Vancouver born singer hit her musical strides early when her parents discovered her picking out songs by ear on a toy xylophone at age three. She was enrolled in violin lessons by age four, and by the age of nine she was a composing songs on piano. Inspired to continue a career in the music industry, she entered school talent quests, enrolled in music college and won first place in a songwriting competition, which funded her debut album.
Ann’s sound has been described as an enchanting cross between the ‘girly timbre of Dolly Parton and the blues-filled prowess of Aretha Franklin’. In 2013 she won Canada’s nation-wide ‘She’s The One’ talent search at the Ottawa Bluesfest, and her live show with her band received 4/5 stars in Die Rhineplatz, Germany this past April. Meanwhile Ann’s songs have garnered airplay on both commercial and independent stations alike. Her latest album, For The People In The Mean Time, an energetic retro soul offering received 4/5 stars in Beat Magazine and is currently up for Pop Recording of the Year and Female Artist of the Year in her hometown of Edmonton. It was also nominated at the Toronto Independent Music Awards for Pop Album of the Year.
Track three from the album, the single You Can Have Me is a playful anti-romantic, or a realistic relationship song, says Ann. “I wrote it to be in contrast with the idealistic pop love songs out there,” she says. “But it’s still really upbeat and has a funky dance vibe rather than a sobering one. In fact, the whole album is about realistic expectations in my rough neighbourhood – sad if you read the lyrics, but the music is quite the opposite. It’s an old-school disco party, a really good time, heavy bad-ass beats, groovy basslines – the kind of thing to play on a Saturday night. I think inadvertently my philosophy of soul music came through, which is that people need to dance and sing and let loose – not because they are problem free and without any blues, but in spite of that, as a way of managing.”
Like many of Ann's lyrical influences – Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Dylan – You Can Have Me is both tongue-in-cheek and simultaneously serious in nature: “It is about accepting and/or settling for someone to be with, in contrast to all the pop songs out there about ‘you’re so perfect and so beautiful and sexy 100 per cent of the time’,” she says. “I came up with a couple of characters who, like most people, want a person who fulfills all the things on their Ideal Person List-- but instead they are advised maybe they should consider lowering their expectations of meeting all the points on their List-- at least within the span of their lifetime-- if they want to actually have a relationship with anyone! It may be on the one hand a bit of a cynical thing but I meant it to be more of a ‘hey, nobody's perfect’, let's celebrate people for who they really are kind of song. I mean, none of us are perfect!"
The album For The People In The Mean Time is firmly rooted in R&B, with nearly all its samples and influences coming from funk artists such as Sly Stone and Parliament, Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, and soul artists like Ray Charles and Ann's all-time favorite singer, Aretha Franklin. The background vocals throughout are arranged in 3-part harmonies taken straight from the pages of the Rayelettes and Aretha, with You Can Have Me being no exception.
The original of You Can Have Me was recorded in Ann’s attic in Edmonton on Garageband as a rough demo, and sent to the album’s producer, Tino Zolfo, in Toronto. The demo had only the bare bones of the track: just piano, lead and background vocals, and a Motown type of chord progression. But Tino decided to put a different groove underneath. “Once he was done with it only the pre- chorus and bridge has any chord progression; he made it all about drums and bass,” says Ann. "After that we re-did the vocal and background vocals in Toronto, but in the end Tino liked how my original vocals sounded better, over the original chord progression he had then removed, because they imply this old-school harmony that's no longer there. So it’s kind of a crazy thing but we kept those original vocals I did on a Sure 58 mic in my attic. I had no intention of that every being a keeper; I didn’t use a proper recording mic at all, but I am excited by how it sounds- it's got a quirky old-school gritty undertone to it, while still being dance-like and poppy. That’s what Tino was after and I thought it suited the lyrics, and my neighbourhood, and me, perfectly.”
After releasing "You Can Have Me in Australia Ann hopes to return back down under in September 2015. Almost an ‘honorary Australian’, Ann has spent a considerable time touring the country, and considers it her "home away from home." So when it came to releasing a new single from her album, Australia was one of the first places she decided to share the song.
Ann Vriend’s single You Can Have Me is released to radio on Friday 15th May 2015.
For more information, please visit www.annvriend.com