Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Music: Annabelle Chvostek

Love & muskeg

After two and a half years with folk rock group The Wailin’ Jennys, Annabelle Chvostek has struck out on her own once again with Resilience, a sparse and beautiful record full of understated fiddle and acoustic guitar that allow her powerful voice to come through more vividly than on previous releases. The album also features collaborations with Bruce Cockburn, who cowrote “Driving Away,” and Mary Gauthier who sings on “Nashville,” a tribute to the seedier aspects lurking behind the public veneer of Tennessee’s capital city. “She’s a bit of a mentor,” says Chvostek of Gauthier.

The title track is a bittersweet portrait of hope and sadness following a breakup; it sets the tone for the rest of the album. “It starts with a personal sense of resilience,” says Chvostek. “Getting through breakups and falling in love again. Then it starts to reflect more on the world and the wars going on and getting through that.”

This is a recurring theme in her lyrics, says Chvostek. “I think a lot about the world and levels of the personal and the political — the working through of personal stuff and how that relates to a larger picture.”

It’s fitting then that in making the video for “Resilience,” Chvostek worked with choreographer Alyson Wishnousky, her former partner. “We were together seven years, and now we’re back together making art.”

After joining The Wailin’ Jennys in 2004, Chvostek toured extensively with the band. She contributed four songs to Firecracker, the band’s 2006 album that garnered a Juno nomination and was among the most heavily played folk albums on Canadian radio that year.

“I loved it and it was exciting to play for so many people,” Chvostek says of her time with the group, “but on another level I just needed to do other things. I get depressed I think if I can’t keep creating. I loved the arrangements of the four songs I was doing with the band but after two and a half years of that show I needed to let out some of the stuff I’d been working on.”

Despite some initial apprehension she’s enjoying running her own show. “Creatively I have free reign. I can work with whoever I want and it’s been really amazing.”

Starting with shows in Montreal and her native Toronto in May and June, Chvostek is embarking on a tour that will take her all over the UK and as far afield as Slovakia, where her family on her father’s side has its roots.

It’s a busy time for Chvostek. In addition to her own tour, the coming months will see her performing with Montreal roots outfit Lake of Stew, who released their first album this month.

“When I’m out a little too much it’s hard to maintain a sense of home and stay in touch sometimes,” she says, “but on the other hand that’s when you make the connections with people. And I love performing, I need to. So touring in many ways is when I feel most in my element.

“I feel like music is my way of synthesizing everything in the world I’m sponging up.”