Ann Vriend (born Vancouver) is a Canadian singer-songwriter/pianist based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has sold thousands of albums and played festivals and venues around the world.
Ann Vriend released a popular demo in 2000, which garnered immediate radio play on stations across western Canada and earned her a spot at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. A year later she won a songwriting contest which took her to Nashville, and helped fund her debut album, Soul Unravelling (2003), which was well received by critics and sold well for an independent release.
"Ann Vriend" is a former spy. She had been working incognito for an undisclosed European agency, posing as a freelance journalist, when she met someone who was also spy—but for the other side. Against all odds, they fell in love—and thus entered an increasingly complicated game of torn loyalties, dangerous, clandestine passion, and treacherous lies.
It is these experiences which inspired "When We Were Spies"; the cinematic new pop album by former agent Ann Vriend.
Upon making the heart wrenching and dangerous decision to defect, Ann Vriend focussed her experiences and emotions on her other her life-long passion: songwriting (perhaps an equally risky profession!). "When We Were Spies" is a stunning collection of moving pop songs; a glorious opposite to Vriend’s faceless and lonely existence as a spy. It is a richly layered, edgy yet tender declaration of bravery and love in a time of confusion and fear. And it is a thematic, cinematic pop masterpiece, produced by Juno nominated producer Douglas Romanow.
Before the album was pressed it had pre-sold 800 copies, and garnered 4 star national reviews. It was released in Canada March 11, 2008.
Hovering perfectly between the accessability of mainstream "pop" and a fresh writing and singing style all her own, ex-spy Vriend has crossed genres such as pop, rock, roots, electronica, cabaret, soul, and even tinges of alt country– all with grace, humor, and flare. This has allowed her commercial radio hits while seamlessly fitting into the solo soft seat theatre scene and festival circuit, fully embraced and celebrated by Indie and folk music fans as much as listeners of mainstream radio. Her blend of originality with pop sounds is comparable to innovators such as Kate Bush, Regina Spector, Sarah Slean, and Feist. Her literary style has likened her to Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon, and her honest voice shows hints of Dolly Parton’s clear, high twangy heartbreak, and Aretha Franklin's stunning, exquisite soul.
With years of international performances under her belt Vriend has wowed audiences around the world with her well-known command as a solo performer, while with her accomlplished band a fuller sound is unleashed with ferverent passion. Her ecclectic fan base is testimony to the fact on record and on stage, Vriend talent lies in her ability to encompass the feelings of all who long for freedom, love, and meaning. Writes American music biographer David Ritz, "Once every generation a singer-songwriter emerges with the creative fire to set the music world ablaze. Ann Vriend has the fire."
"Love & Other Messes" was released in early 2011. The album features a seven piece band, including vocalists Coco Love Alcorn and Chloe Albert, and includes a duet with Matt Epp. The record, produced by Vriend herself, was influenced by Nashville, Muscle Shoals, classic R&B and Motown sounds. Vriend released a video for "Graffiti on my Heart". Love & Other Messes was number one on the CKUA album charts for two weeks, and received a 3 1/2 star review in the Toronto Star.
Also in 2011, Vriend provided vocals for a topical single called "William and Kate".
Vriend has toured Canada, Australia and Europe extensively, both solo and backed by a band. Live recordings from 2008 and 2009 shows, along with new songs recorded live-off-the-floor, were released in late 2009 as Closer Encounters. She released videos for "A Dollar and a Suitcase" and "On Your Street", the two new songs on the album, in 2010.
Vriend is also the currator and host of Edmonton's Bluebird North performance series. She also performs with popular 1980s cover band Valiant Thieves.
Vriend's literary writing style reveals the influence of 1970s singer/songwriters such as Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, and Cat Stevens. Her unique vocals have been compared to the clear, vulnerable Nashville sound of Dolly Parton, the playfulness of Cyndi Lauper, and the raw power of Aretha Franklin and Etta James.
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