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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 9, No. 7

Coral Egan - The Path of Greater Resistance

by Lenore Alford / April 26, 2004

Version française...

"She says she finally found her place / It did not take a fortune, no just a pleasant pace." So begins Coral Egan's album My Favorite Distraction, released February 10 by Justin Time Records. And if this eclectic and compelling recording is any indication, Egan is certainly on her way to establishing her place in the Canadian music scene.

But where, exactly, does she fit? Until now, Egan has been known in Quebec as a jazz vocalist, an easy and natural niche for her to fill as the daughter of Karen Young. Like the title she chose for her debut recording of jazz standards with guitarist Alex Cattaneo, she had certainly followed The Path of Least Resistance. But My Favorite Distraction could not be more different; it's a myriad of styles and genres comprising folk, reggae, pop, R&B, soul, and world beat, as well as jazz. Egan no longer wishes to be locked into the jazz vocalist category; her music is "without borders," she says, and "whatever demographic enjoys my music, they're the people I want to be playing to." Her new niche? Simply "Coral the singer/songwriter."

The new space Coral Egan is creating for herself doesn't come without unforeseen challenges, however. Up until now, she says she always felt "an incredible sense of liberty in interpreting other people's songs," a sense now replaced by the weighty and restrictive responsibility of being true to herself in her own work (Egan wrote or co-wrote all 12 songs on her new album). In this recent process of establishing her own voice, the singer has discovered the paradoxical phenomenon of "freeing yourself from the melody you've written." This has proven difficult, but she feels that through recreating her own songs again and again in concert, she will eventually rediscover her former interpretive freedom, but with a new edge. In the meantime, she is working on "making the song the whole, rather than the singer," with raw emotions dictating all aspects of her music making, be they the poetic themes conveyed, the musical structures created or her interpretations of the material. As she goes further inward, Egan believes her music can only become more authentic, her contribution more distinct. "Intuition is the best way to express profound things," she claims.

And this effusive 30-year old has a lot to express; in fact, Coral the singer/songwriter/philosopher might be a more accurate title for her. Her lyrics are generally earnest in tone, touching on themes ranging from political activism to more personal angst-ridden reflections. In her view, "change or resistance to change" acts like a common thread in all her poetry, a preoccupation that clearly mirrors her current artistic position. One can hear that, for example, in the politically charged refrain of the song Just Ani25mals when she intones, "My greatest fear is that all that's going on here/Will continue to flow as it has throughout time/My greatest wish is to be part of some great change." And such sentiments, it can be safely said, apply to her own career as well. For now, we will be watching for those great changes with interest, but in the meantime, Coral Egan's My Favorite Distraction seems like a good space to settle down in, at least for a while.

caption for cd: Coral Egan

My Favorite Distraction

Just 191-2

Version française...

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