Skeletons and Spirits

Clock strikes 12 for the second time in a “Sylvan Hour” selection – awakening Allison Crowe’s “Skeletons and Spirits” in this recording from Salt Spring Island’s sylvan castle.

In 1933 Ladislas Starewitch and his daughter, Irene, produced and directed "Fetiche Mascotte" – in English “The Mascot” – and it’s an excerpt from this classic film seen here with Allison’s musical performance.

Stop-motion animation pioneer and imaginative genius Władysław Starewicz was born in 1882 in Moscow, Russia to Polish parents. Following the October Revolution of 1917, he resettled in France –adopting the name Ladislas Starewitch (or Starevitch). Creator of the first puppet-animated film, he’s legendary for his use of insects and other animals as film protagonists and for his fantastic, inventive, techniques.

Starewitch died in 1965 while working on “Comme chien et chat” (“Like Dog and Cat”). Since 1991, his granddaughter, Léona Béatrice, together with her husband, François Martin, has been restoring and bringing to the world his wonderfully artful films:

“Sylvan Hour is truly a masterpiece” says pioneering culture blog Muruch. (

Discover this music from a remarkable artist at a personal and creative crossroads in her life. “Sylvan Hour” is an album of songs bridging west and east, piano and guitar, then and now…

For fans of Allison Crowe at her purest, this is voice, one accompanying instrument – one take. Real-time performances in the sequence they’re played and sung by Allison in a log-home on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada.

That afternoon the musician was in the midst of migrating from her birthplace of Nanaimo, BC, on Canada’s Pacific, to a new nest in Corner Brook, NL, on the Atlantic coast. Soon to fly east, Crowe bade farewell to those near and dear on western shores – including compatriot Kayla Schmah on Salt Spring, neighbouring Vancouver Island.

Decades earlier Schmah’s parents had made an epic trek to the Pacific Northwest from Central Canada – in a repurposed donut truck. Planting themselves in the Gulf Islands archipelago, they lived at first in a converted parachute in the woods. From the ground up the home-steaders then built a family dwelling out of Douglas Fir – their “sylvan castle”.

Allison and Kayla, as musicians had shared stages together from their teens onward (and, years later, becoming a film-scorer in Hollywood, Schmah brilliantly orchestrated and produced Crowe’s album “Spiral”.) Among the friends together on SSI this day was Ryan Adams (who, like Schmah was a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music and was en route to becoming an in-demand tv/film audio engineer in Los Angeles).

With mics and a laptop set-up in the living-room, Adams captured this set of the newest songs in Allison’s repertoire – originals including “Skeletons and Spirits”, “Running”, and “Silence” as well as a trio of covers (interpreting songs famously by Joni Mitchell, The Lovin’ Spoonful and Aretha Franklin).

Also gorgeous, but differently so, essentially group versions of most of these songs were released near the end of that same year (2006) on Allison Crowe’s album “This Little Bird” (the title track a celebration of her migration). “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” is the sole sylvan session recording released before – it’s presented now within the full hour of music for all time.

Enjoy this most natural of talents – in this most natural of settings.
Categories: Music Video
In this Video Artist(s) Allison Crowe
Posted: Jun. 19, 2015