With evocative songs, bang-on vocals, down-home humour and two adventurous musical minds in the mix, Sirens’ performances are moving – tickling the funny bone one moment, drawing tears the next. www.sirens3.com
The combined sounds of the award-winning Sirens (Donna Creighton and Jo-Ann Lawton) are in year10 as a singing and songwriting team: a dynamic duo whose versatility continues to surprise audiences. Unlike sirens of folklore, however, Canada’s Sirens deliver story songs with rare emotional complexity and a genre-blending style that is as unexpected as their vocal harmonies. They’ve been called startling, beautiful and nothing less than Magic. With evocative songs, bang-on vocals, down-home humour and two adventurous musical minds in the mix, Sirens’ performances are moving, tickling the funny bone one moment, drawing tears the next.
Based in London, Ontario, Sirens have won 6 music awards and tour extensively in the US. After their 1997 independent CD debut, Sirens were signed to Canada’s only all folk and acoustic-based Borealis Recording Company label. Their first release with Borealis, Smilin’ (2000), propelled the band into new territory on the road and in the studio with producer Bill Garrett, culminating in a live performance for 16,000 at the 2001 Canada Summer Games.
With appearances from coffeehouses and folk clubs to major folk festivals and soft-seat venues, Sirens are at ease on both sides of the 49th parallel. This year marks the release of “Look Up” following their live recording “Live at the Ugly Mug Café” (2003) The debut of their latest collaboration, “Hearts Made Great”, with Orchestra London was the featured Remembrance Day performance at the Centennial Hall in London.
What is certain about this brand of contemporary acoustic folk is the infusion of tight original harmonies and the unexpected swings from traditional sea shanties to ragtime melodies, from jazz chords to pop to country, interjected with a waltz, a lullaby or 1950s-style doo-wop. Sirens’ lyrics are drawn from life experience, backed by guitars, recorders, whistles and occasionally keyboards or percussion.
Over the past 10 years Sirens has toured North America sharing the stage with countless talented musicians, including Bruce Cockburn, Valdy, Bruce Guthro, Parachute Club, Fred J. Eaglesmith, Don Ross, Arrogant Worms, Georgette Fry, Moxy Früvous, Philosopher Kings and Lisa Loeb.
Donna Creighton is well known for her pure voice and has been described as a delightful stage personality who can steal your heart and openly hand you hers in return. A classically trained vocalist, and a veteran of the recorder, she has been performing since the age of 5. She is an accomplished, versatile singer of traditional music, and her approach to songwriting reflects her candid take on life and remarkable agility with musical styles. Ms. Creighton is an Honours graduate of The University of Western Ontario in English and Drama in addition to her B.Ed. She continues to enhance her skills through continued study with Boston-based Joey Blake, member of Voicestra and Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music.
Jo-Ann Lawton is Ottawa born, Burlington raised and London aged. She holds a Fine Art Diploma from London’s Fanshawe College where the incorporation of word use was often an integral part of her artwork. Jo-Ann loves to celebrate the un-compromised creativity of people who are not afraid to come to their art form from unsuspecting directions and who take joy in their uniqueness. She is a prolific song writer, a lover of the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s singing styles, is a consummate performer and has had roles in many aspects of the music business from artistic director, to agent, promoter, co-producer and co-creator of several original shows. She conducts songwriting workshops and of course is the driver of the proverbial bus.
“No tentative vocals here. The feel of this CD is somewhere between lure and attack. These women have strong vocals that are always on pitch. Sometimes they sing solo, sometimes two back up a lead voice, and sometimes they choose a full trio sound.
There are many standouts on this CD. I’ll mention three. The first involves the story of Galloway’s mother called “Em’s Song.” In three minutes, we are able to meet the former healthy women and feel the pain of her demise and the devastation that Alzheimer’s brings. With the powerful image of “shuffling down the hall” the trio creates, in a cappelia excellence, the shock of having someone close who no longer recognizes family.
With “Heed The Warning” they demand just that. In a driving, upbeat warning you hear of a toxic, evil woman, who approaches from your blind side to lead you into the Woods forever.
And the lovely lullaby “Rocking” is the celebration of a teenage mom and her boy thriving beyond expectation over the years. “Come sit by me rocking” is repeated, until the boy no longer wants to be rocked. The high singing voice of Donna Creighton is so clear and beautiful it’s hard to imagine anyone no longer wanting to hear it.
Sirens’ musical style ranges from piano backed torch songs to lullabies. Their use of tin whistle, accordion and violin is never overdone. Some groups have great vocals, and some good writing skills. Sirens has both. Not only that, they have the professional performance skills to lure you in. Let them. You’ll be in good hands.”
Sing Out magazine (Vol. 44 #4)