Treasa Levasseur CD Review
AUTHOR: Peter Collins – Maverick – The UK’s Leading Independent Country Music Magazine
DATE: November 1st, 2012
“…what a find her third album, BROAD is; her stunningly, sexy voice draws you into the lyrics and beautifully spins you back out again…”
Indie Round Up: Treasa Levasseur
AUTHOR: Jon Sobel – blogcritics.org
DATE: April 23rd, 2012
Canadian powerhouse singer-songwriter Treasa Levasseur continues broadening the soul music tradition into the 21st century with her latest release. The infectiously catchy groove of “Much Too Much” sets the dancing tone with staccato electric piano chords leading into a smoky melody. Her rich voice is just powerful enough to sell these tradition-rooted soul tunes, with their consistently tasteful musicality.
Penguin Eggs: Broad Review
AUTHOR: Mike Sadava – Penguin Eggs
DATE: Winter 2011-2012, issue 52
Treasa Levasseur says the album title describes the influence of the many R&B musicians she has played with, and they’re all on this album. With four backup bands, four producers and three studios, broad certainly describes her approach. With the likes of Steve Marriner and MonkeyJunk, Ken Whiteley, Raoul and the Big Time and her own band led by David Baxter, there are many sounds here-horn sections, lots of harmonica, even Levasseur’s accordion- and grooves from slow blues to blistering funk.
But it is also unified by Levasseur’s ballsy voice, thoughtful songwriting and keyboard playing. It comes off as influenced by the blues and R&B, but slightly out of both boxes. There are echoes of Bonnie Raitt here, especially on Still Got Love, but that’s a good thing. This “old school dame” has a great future.
AUTHOR: Bruce Von Stiers – bvsreviews.com
DATE: April 14th, 2012
…With groove laden songs like Much Too Much, the aching vocals of Do Run and the mixture of styles between tracks, Broad is one hell of an album.
Treasa is a Toronto , Canada native. But her music could well have placed her in Chicago or even New Orleans . Treasa’s vocals have a mixture of tough blues and scorching jazz. This makes for a dangerously delicious musical combination.
Monkeyjunk, Raul and The Big Time, The Daily Special and Wroxton Allstars were the four bands that played on the album backing Treasa. In addition to those bands, Treasa also had vocal help from Brad Hart, Brian Macmillan, David Celia, Jo Edwards and Suzie Vinnick. And additional musical help came from Jason Hay, Richard Underhill , Vandana Sharma and Roman Tome.
Besides doing the vocals on the album, Treasa also played piano, the Wurlitzer and the accordion.
Treasa gave the album the title of Broad to emphasize the vast range of her musical styling. And the fact that she’s kind of a bold, brassy chick might have played into the title a bit.
Treasa was the executive producer for the album, with a member of each band helping produce the songs they played on. Treasa also wrote nine of the twelve songs on the album…
-To read the full article, visit http://www.bvsreviews.com/treasabroad.htm-
Treasa Levasseur: Broad
AUTHOR: Keys and Chords
DATE: April 4th, 2012
Translation from original review found at http://www.keysandchords.com/6/post/2012/04/treasa-levasseur-broad.html.
…”Broad” is unmistakable blue tinted but we also find more traditional folky singer-songwriter elements back to this varied work. This variation is undoubtedly due to the presence of four different bands and as many producers who support each from a different angle but still operate in a beautifully balanced coherent integration. Treasa’s touring band The Daily Special is a band led by David Gahan Baxter. The guitarist from Toronto was also a producer on the debut of Lavasseur and “The Memphis Sessions’ question. In the tight “Still Got Love” explains Paul Reddick harmonicaman subtle accents, as in the final melancholic, highly autobiographical piano ballad “Let Me Sleep On It ‘. Before that happens dares Levasseur himself with the help of Monkey Jump, a combo from Ottawa under the leadership of Steve Marriner, after the vital opener ‘Much Too Much’ to some covers. The Neil Young borrowed “Walk On” opened at the time ‘The Beach’. The version that we hear will not hang straight, unlike the interpretation of “God’s Song ‘. The Biblical saga of Randy Newman gets a clever interpretation built, perfect for the sultry voice timbre turns to Bonnie Raitt and Marcia Ball recalls, especially in New Orleans to the alluring ‘We Should Dance’. Searing, funky stuff with sparkling piano by Ken Whiteley supported by Wroxton All Stars. Of the sessions with Raoul & the Big Time we remember especially the bluesy grinder ‘Davey’ and laced with tight horn work ‘What We’re Worth. ” “What we do it’s what we’re worth” sings Levasseur and that, in the case of the versatile diva not be underestimated.
The old school diva from Toronto is back. ‘The Broad’ REFLECTS the musical Versatility or Treasa Levasseur in bleusy soul with a strong, personal approach.
Treasa Levasseur – Broad (Independently released CD, Bluesy pop)
AUTHOR: LMNOP aka DONW7 – babysue.com
DATE: April 2012
The playing is tight and inspired throughout…and at the heart of the music are Treasa’s confident cool vocals.
More cool and breezy bluesy pop from Canada’s Treasa Levasseur. The last time we heard from Treasa was way back in September 2010 when she released her captivating Low Fidelity album. And now the release of Broad (her third full-length release) further cements her place in music history. Levasseur is backed by no less than four different groups of musicians here and yet the album has a nice smooth flow. The playing is tight and inspired throughout…and at the heart of the music are Treasa’s confident cool vocals. This lady can really belt out a tune…but in the process she never sounds like she’s forcing it or trying too hard. Most of the songs are originals but she also covers tunes by Randy Newman, Neil Young, and Mike Evin. Levasseur has been compared to Laura Nyro, Carole King, Marcia Ball, and Bonnie Raitt…so that should give you a pretty good idea of where this lady is coming from in terms of her overall sound. Twelve gutsy tracks here including “Much Too Much,” “Reel Good Time,” “Davey,” and “Walk On.” Good solid stuff with muscle.
The 15th Annual Maple Blues Awards
AUTHOR: Eric Thom – Roots Music Canada
DATE: January 18th, 2012
…This year’s MBAs were ably hosted by two of Canadian blues’ leading ladies: Treasa Levasseur and Shakura S’Aida. These two were competing against each other for the coveted Female Blues Singer of the Year award — yet you wouldn’t know it for the camaraderie on display…
…Special thanks for the high calibre of this evening’s proceedings belongs to both Levasseur and S’Aida — who unleashed loads of personality while revealing some fine acting skills, not to mention good comic timing, greasing the rails to keep the troops entertained between presentations…
For the full article, please visit http://www.rootsmusic.ca/2012/01/18/the-15th-annual-maple-blues-awards/
Treasa Levasseur – Broad
AUTHOR: John Taylor – Blinded by Sound
DATE: November 25th, 2011
…no matter what song she’s singing, Levasseur’s voice remains an utterly remarkable and absolutely captivating instrument. It’s a pure and natural marvel, strong and clear but somehow soft, too, with a velvety warmth that seems to teeter on the edge of unrestrained mirth.
Toronto’s Treasa Levasseur is no shrinking violet; brazenly calling her latest recording Broad, she exhibits a fiercely independent and ferocious intelligence that refuses to back down from controversial subject material. Whether examining personal relationships or the sharp divides that tear families and society apart, she’s unflinchingly honest and emotionally indomitable. And yet she does it all with a voice that, while capable of gritty resolve, can best be described by the overworked cliché “smooth as velvet.”
Levasseur wrote nine of Broad’s twelve tracks, with covers including Neil Young’s “Walk On” and Randy Newman’s acerbic “God’s Song” (provocative even by Newman’s standards). Two themes emerge throughout the disc – a restless need to keep moving, and – surprising in this day and age of fuzzy protests without focus – the need for a strong, self-reliant work ethic.
And she wraps it all in a superbly played and produced package featuring four different backing bands, all stellar outfits in their own right. They include up-and-comers MonkeyJunk, Raoul And The Big Time, The Daily Special, and the Wroxton Allstars. None are widely known, but they’re all accomplished outfits comprised of seasoned and soulful veterans. It’s worth noting that three of the four feature harmonica players, with Steve Marriner, Raoul Baneja, and Paul Reddick all contributing masterful licks on the lickin’ stick. Elsewhere the mood is set with Levasseur’s own unobtrusive piano and excellent accordion.
But while the accompaniment is uniformly excellent, this is a songwriter’s project, and Levasseur has lots to say – lyrically she’s sassy and sexy and absolutely fearless – so solos are minimal and invariably to-the-point, keeping each song concise and tightly focused. And while she’s embraced by the blues community, there’s really nothing here that could be called blues – the sound is rootsy and the instrumentation organic, but Levasseurs’s compositions are far more melodic and catchy than formulaic twelve-bar convention.
Fare includes that thought-provoking “A Little Pride,” addressing the issue of a woman’s right to dress as she pleases, and “What We’re Worth,” propagating the unfashionable notion that “What we do is what we are worth.” “Davey” is a sweet song of succor and solace, while “We Should Dance” is an unapologetic celebration of the here-and-now. And “Let Me Sleep On It,” the collection’s closer, is simply stunning – an autobiographical tale of self-reliant defiance in the face of discouragement, and the value and worth of pursuing one’s dreams.
But no matter what song she’s singing, Levasseur’s voice remains an utterly remarkable and absolutely captivating instrument. It’s a pure and natural marvel, strong and clear but somehow soft, too, with a velvety warmth that seems to teeter on the edge of unrestrained mirth. Beguiling and bewitching, her voice alone could easily carry weaker material – but the truth is, she’s just as accomplished at writing and arranging as she is as a vocalist, and there’s really not a weak moment to be found here.
One suspects Treasa Levasseur delights in being called a ‘broad,’ the word implying a brash personality with opinions aplenty and an unshakeable confidence. She deserves it – in every good way possible. She’s a remarkable talent, and Broad is a true gem. Highly recommended!
Treasa Levasseur – Broad
AUTHOR: Kerry Doole – Exlaim!
DATE: October 25th, 2011
…Broad (her third full-length offering) stands as her most impressive work yet.
It has been pleasing to watch the artistic evolution of this talented Toronto, ON roots songstress over recent years, and Broad (her third full-length offering) stands as her most impressive work yet. Levasseur took the challenging step of recruiting four different producers and backing bands, then recording them in three studios in two cities (Ottawa and Toronto). The result effectively showcases her eclectic style, yet never sounds incoherent or confusing. She shape shifts from blues to soul to R&B to pop-inflected material with ease; her voice lacks the grab-you-by-the-throat power of Dusty or Etta, but is supple, melodic and convincing. She brings something fresh to covers of Neil Young (“Walk On”) and Randy Newman (“God’s Song”), while Mike Evin’s “We Should Dance” is delightfully infectious. Levasseur’s writing is by turns witty and perceptive, shining on tunes like the catchy “Much Too Much” and the slow-burning, soulful “Feel Good Time.” The accompaniment is unsurprisingly excellent, given that it comes from noted blues bands MonkeyJunk and Raoul & the Big Time, her the Daily Special (with David Baxter) and the Ken Whiteley-led Wroxton All-Stars. Production duties are shared by Steve Marriner, Terry Wilkins, Whiteley and Baxter, with musical guests including Paul Reddick, Suzie Vinnick, David Celia and Champagne James Robertson. This is an all-star cast on a stellar outing.
TREASA LEVASSEUR: Broad (Slim Chicken)
AUTHOR: The Province
DATE: October 31st, 2011
When Levasseur isn’t sassy she can be outspoken, as in lead off track, “Much Too Much” or her cover of Randy Newman’s “God’s Song,” which is an interesting choice in itself that speaks volumes of her character. So, she might be a confident rhythm and blues singer, but she also is thoughtfully provocative. The latter is what distinguishes her.
Treasa Levasseur -”Much Too Much”- Broad
AUTHOR: The Blues Mobile -thebluesmobile.com
DATE: November 25th, 2011
The variety brings a nice mix to a ripping collection of soulful rhythm and blues.
Treasa Levasseur started out as an acoustic folk player in Winnipeg, but after she moved to Toronto, she became in constant demand as a session singer. Levasseur can sing anything – from folk blues and country to heavy metal and hip-hop. And besides being a great singer, she is adept at the piano, guitar, mandolin, and accordion.
Treasa’s latest CD is called Broad, and on it she is joined by not one but four great young blues bands –Monkey Junk, Raoul and the Big Time, The Daily Special, and the Wroxton Allstars. The variety brings a nice mix to a ripping collection of soulful rhythm and blues. This is Treasa Levasseur with Monkey Junk and “Much Too Much.”
Five things to do this week
AUTHOR: Jason Rehel – National Post
DATE: November 25th, 2011
…the sultry Treasa Levasseur, whose latest, Broad, explores her penchant for funk through a bluesy lens…
Shelagh Rogers breaks out of the radio booth to host an evening of some of the finest and most soul-stirring female voices in the country at the 25th Annual Women’s Blues Revue. Lasses set to take the stage include the legendary Ada Lee, Alberta swamp blues specialist Kat Danser, the sultry Treasa Levasseur, whose latest, Broad, explores her penchant for funk through a bluesy lens, as well as Shakura S’Aida, Suzie Vinnick and Emma-Lee, all backed by the Women’s Blues Revue Band. Nov. 26, 8 p.m. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St. $25-$55; torontobluessociety.com.
Treasa Levasseur’s one smart broad
AUTHOR: Denis Armstrong – Ottawa Sun
DATE: November 15th, 2011
With that big blues voice, and a sassy, sexy personality, Levasseur identifies with those lovable old gals we used to call broads.
Treasa Levasseur called her new album Broad for two reasons.
The first is obvious.
With that big blues voice, and a sassy, sexy personality, Levasseur identifies with those lovable old gals we used to call broads.
“I was never the young and sweet ingenue type,” the blues-singing Levasseur admits. “I’m not the one who gets the guy, I’m the one who gets the scoop — less pretty lady and more the trusted Girl Friday. If I were a Hepburn, I’d be Katherine, not Audrey … I’m a lot more interested in being smart than I am in being cute.”
That’s precisely why the personable Levasseur’s a hoot to see live. However, the saucy album title also a double-entendre, which also refers to the broad range of music covering blues, ballads, rockers, swing and a spiritual or two, and musicians backing her with four bands including Raoul and the Big Time, The Daily Special, the Wroxton Allstars and Ottawa’s Monkeyjunk with Steve Marriner.
“Playing with a new band is like going on that first date, a chance to present yourself as a clean slate, brand new,” Levasseur admits. “I have a big blues voice, but my background is folk. It would be physically impossible for me to not sing the blues, but its fun to show another side to me.”
Morning Coffee with David Farrell
AUTHOR: David Farrell – FYI Music
DATE: November 15th, 2011
Not to be overlooked is Broad, Treasa Levasseur’s 3rd album that serves up a soulful hotpot of tracks steeped in the inescapable rhythms widely associated with Memphis, Motown and American gospel roots. This Broad’s magic may be the in the fact that it employs a medley of producers, studios and bands, infusing the tracks with a variety of creative sources; whatever the case, Levasseur’s album is unquestionably destined to show up on end-of-year critics’ pick and 2012 Polaris lists.
AUTHOR: Kerry Doole
DATE: November 13th, 2011
This Toronto-based roots singer/songwriter continues to progress and impress.
TREASA LEVASSEUR: This Toronto-based roots singer/songwriter continues to progress and impress. She has just released her best album yet, Broad, and celebrated with a CD launch performance at Lula Lounge. The full house confirmed her growing popularity, and they were suitably supportive. Levasseur was backed by an eight-piece band of A-list local players (including a horn section), while blues harmonica stars PAUL REDDICK and RAOUL BHANEJA were also guests. The guitar work of SEAN COTTON and CHAMPAGNE JAMES ROBERTSON was a special treat. Levasseur’s strong and supple voice was never overshadowed, though. She has a versatile style that draws upon the blues, r ‘n b, and soul, while covers of RANDY NEWMAN (“God’s Song”) and NEIL YOUNG (“Walk On”) went over well. Local songwriter MIKE EVIN ,also a guest, did a version of his song “We Should Dance,” a real highlight. Levasseur’s own songwriting is strong and she is totally charming as a performer. Lovely stuff.
Music Review of the Day: Treasa Levasseur – Broad
AUTHOR: Bob Mersereau
DATE: October 2011
…she’s belting out the R’n'B with gusto, and not afraid to make a big deal about it. Horns, harmonica, whatever is needed.
Levasseur gets a bit more uptown on this sophisticated and funky disc. Polish is sometimes a dirty word, but not when it means professional and smart, and that’s what rolls off this disc. Mostly self-written with three choice covers, she’s belting out the R’n'B with gusto, and not afraid to make a big deal about it. Horns, harmonica, whatever is needed. Even the slow stuff, like the great revamp of Randy Newman’s biting God’s Song, is an opportunity to sing from down deep, along with her own soulful accordian. Feel Good Time is a classic 70′s slow groove, something Bill Withers would have sunk his teeth into.
The disc was recorded with four different bands in multiple sessions, which brings a variety of players and styles to the table. Canadian blues favourites MonkeyJunk handle four of the cuts, solid blues pros. David Baxter produced three tracks with an ad hoc bunch of his and Levasseur’s Toronto pals, including harp expert Paul Reddick. Baxter handles the elegant pop number Do Run, that moves her into a classy ballad style. Raoul and the Big Time take three cuts, and the last two belong to Wroxton Allstars, the nom-de-disc of Ben and Ken Whitely, along with drumming stalwart Bucky Berger. With different bands, studios and producers, it’s surprising that the disc comes together so well and expertly.
More big kudos go out to the smart and fine cover of Neil Young’s Walk On. She works it with a bit of a reggae beat, and MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner plays a great call-and-response harp line, doing a pretty major reworking of the song. It’s also one which many younger folk won’t know as a Neil number, and I’m betting they’d still love it. An excellent disc from a roots ‘n’ blues favourite in Canada.
Sound and Vision Article
AUTHOR: Ken Richardson
DATE: September 2010
The warm glow of the radio that bathes Treasa Levasseur may connote Low Fidelity (BDC Distribution), but the title track has the Canadian singer testifying about anotherkind of faithfulness: “Well, the same old song’s kinda hard to hear / It’s comin’ in loud, but it’s far from clear / Your frequency’s been gettin’ weak on me / And I say no . . . to low . . . fidelity.” She says yes, however, to some smokin’ blues — such that this album, first released up north in late 2008 but available in the U.S. just now, earned a Juno Award nomination for Blues Album of the Year. “I made a record with a sound that pleased my own ear,” Levasseur notes, “and it turns out that a lot of other people like the same sound I do.” She co-produced it with David Gavan Baxter, managing to fit widescreen sonics into what seems like the intimacy of a club. And the super intimacy of your listening room.
Philadelphia Folk Festival spotlight
DATE: August 2010
This year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival presents a duet of old & new performers
The Philadelphia Folk Festival is back in rejuvenated form this year, also boasting the star power of Saturday afternoon headliner Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco fame) and Saturday night specials like Chris Smither (in a rare appearance with a band), Erin McKeown and Taj Mahal.
At the same time, the fest has deliberately sought stimulating crossover talents who can appeal to a younger, “folk? say wha?” audience.
We’re talking the likes of piano popster Vienna Tang and quirky Bonnie “Prince” Billy (aka Will Oldham) on tonight’s bill, and Saturday daytime attractions like the indie folk-rocking Giving Tree Band and down-home balladeer Shannon Whitworth (kinda in the Lucinda Williams vein).
Sunday’s nonstop day-into-early-evening schedule kicks off right (at 11 a.m.) with a sure to please showcase of fresh Canadian talents, including the band Lee Harvey Osmond, Nudie & the Turks, Amelia Curran, Jack Marks, Justin Rutledge and the rocking, riveting Treasa Levasseur, our forecast for “buzz” artist of the weekend.
ALBUM REVIEW: Low Fidelity
AUTHOR: Ellen Marie Hawkins
DATE: August 2010
Treasa Levasseur’s Low Fidelity is really good. I know that sounds so simple, but that’s the thing; that simple realization that an album is well done usually comes with time for me. Not so with this cd. Her vocals are so good. The musicians are amazing.
Call it blues, soul, jazz, rhythm and blues; call it what you want but there is no denying that this is good. I wish I could convey what that simple word means or how shocked I was that I came to the realization so quickly, but there it is. This is good stuff.
Although she’s from Toronto, Canada, Treasa sounds like she has spent her entire life studying the blues from the greats from the deep south of the States. She acknowledges some of that in “Stuck in Soulsville,” a song about Memphis. The horns in this song deserve major props; I can only hope you’re not too busy dancing to notice.
The other great songs on this album are definitely the open song, “Help Me Over,” but it’s not until Treasa sings the album title, halfway through the cd, that you realize this isn’t a disc that gets all sloppy and lazy on the second half. In fact, I think I prefer the latter tracks. Not that the opening ones aren’t good, like I said, they are, but it’s like she’s truly reaching her stride. Or maybe it’s just it takes me a couple of songs to start to get over my admiration enough so that I can fully appreciate what good music this is.
That said, “Low Fidelity,” a sassy song about not putting up with a no good man is fantastic, and the funny but true, “Big Fat Mouth,” is just so darn fun and true that it’s sure to have high rotation on your ipod. I couldn’t decide if I liked the lyrics, the horns, or the “uh, huh, uh huh, yeah, yeah” of the background vocals the most.
And just when you think you may have an idea what Treasa Levasseur is about and understand exactly what type of music she writes and sings, she closes the album with “Amen,” worthy of a southern choir, full of spirituality and searching that knocks on heaven’s door and leaves you breathless.
Be sure to check Treasa out at www.treasalevasseur.com or on Itunes. Low Fidelity is a 2010 JUNO nominee for best Blues Album. Don’t be the last to figure out why she deserves that nomination and many more to follow.
ALBUM REVIEW: Low Fidelity
DATE: August 26, 2010
Wow. That’s the word that comes to mind after spinning the latest release from soulful singer/songwriter Treasa Levasseur. I’d never heard this sultry-voiced Canuck prior to “Low Fidelity” coming across my desk, but you better believe she’ll be on my radar from here on out. This near-perfect 10-track release was a 2010 JUNO nominee for best blues album and is just now getting its stateside release. It’s about time. “Help Me Over” gets the platter off to a fine start and sets the stage for my favorite track, “Good Ones Never Share.” After a minor hiccup with “Talk to Me Babe,” Levasseur delivers an uninterrupted string of keepers in “Truth Will Set You Free,” the phenomenal title track, “Big Fat Mouth,” “Stuck In Soulsville” and haunting closer “Amen.” Double wow.
The Washington Examiner
AUTHOR: Emily Cary
DATE: August 23, 2010
Canadian folk artist Treasa Levasseur comes to Rockville as part of Focus Concerts
Canadian singer/songwriter Treasa Levasseur and her band open Focus Concerts’ new venue in Rockville with a program featuring music from “Low Fidelity,” her latest album released last week in this country. The album already has earned a prestigious nomination as Blues Album of the Year from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Growing up in Winnipeg and Northern Ontario, Levasseur was exposed early to church and classical music, studying piano for 15 years. Along the way, she studied musical theater, but all that fell by the wayside when she attended a Folk Alliance conference in Memphis and discovered soul. “When the conference ended, my connecting ﬂight to Chicago was canceled because of snow, so I stayed over an extra day,” she said. “A friend took me to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and it so happened that all the famous legends of soul music like Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding were back for an anniversary celebration. I was able to sit and listen to them talk about their music, and when I got home I wrote ‘Stuck in Soulsville,’ a song about how the day played out.” That song is one of 10 bluesy soul numbers on “Low Fidelity,” which is heating up in part because of Levasseur’s enthusiastic following and the impact her sassy style and voluptuous volume make wherever she performs. The album includes a witty song that alludes to her powerful lungs, “My Big Fat Mouth,” written while she was going through a breakup with her boyfriend. “I told him he must be sick of my big fat mouth, and he suggested I write a song about it, so I did,” she said, laughing. “My mother says the lyrics are the truest I’ve ever written.” The album embraces the latest trend of moving back to 45 rpm vinyl recordings, as does the EP she
just cut in Memphis to be released in Canada this fall. Typically, the U.S. version will not be out until next year. Both build on “Not a Straight Line,” her 2006 debut album of funky folk ballads and gospel styles
born of her choir upbringing. Levasseur comes to Rockville after stops in Brooklyn and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, where she tried to absorb the unique local soul traditions. Her keyboard is backed by an accordion, a guitar and a bass, members chosen from the large contingent of bandsmen on call that she terms her “daily special.” The ingre- dients, she explained, are always changing, depending on her needs. “After my years in folk music, my goal in cutting ‘Low Fidelity’ was to add an R&B musical ﬂavor on a positive note,” she said. “I’m a late bloomer in embracing soul. Because sincere music doesn’t work unless it really is sincere, I try to write honest music. It all goes back to my church origins that shun negativity and lift the soul to a higher place. “Wherever I perform, my goal is to make every show like a party at my house. I’ll play some stories with a little bit of mayhem on the side. This is a family show, so I want lots of little kids involved, and I hope they’ll come up to the front, dance and boogie it up. Since one of my passions is teaching music to children, I want lots of them to come out with their families and have a wonderful time.”
AUTHOR: Errol Nazareth
DATE: August 27, 2010
Winnipeg isn’t exactly a hotbed of soul music and that’s evidenced by the two bonafide soulsters that it’s given us over the last eight years.
Remy Shand impressed mightily with his 2002 debut, The Way I Feel, and then disappeared off our radars. 2010 is set to be Treasa Levasseur’s year and I’m hoping she doesn’t fall off the musical map like Shand.
When I profiled singer and multi-instrumentalist here last year, I wrote that her album, Low Fidelity, is all Stax-influenced soul and blues and that her voice lends itself nicely to those sounds. Well, judging from a recent interview, her next disc is going to be an even more soulful affair.
If you stop by the Silver Dollar tomorrow night, you’ll hear tunes from her upcoming album including songs she recorded in Memphis’ famed Royal Studios with Lawrence ‘Boo’ Mitchell, the son of the late legendary producer Willie Mitchell. An added bonus is that Levasseur, who usually performs with a quartet, will be accompanied by a bigger band that includes a couple of horn players.
Watch for the first single to drop in Canada in late September, she says, “with a 45 of the other two tunes – yes on vinyl! – to be released in November.”
“Playing with legends like (Rufus Thomas’ son) Marvel Thomas, Hots Cleveland (who’s in BB King’s band), and Lanny Richardson (who’s played with soul giants Al Green and Ann Peebles) was the fulfillment of a dream and Memphis will always have a special place in my heart,” she says.
Levasseur’s love affair with the musical mecca began inadvertently three years back. Her flight to Chicago was cancelled due to a snowstorm and she ended up stuck in Memphis. Fortuitously, she crossed paths with Cindy Cogbill (of Folk Alliance International) who invited her to visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
“Knowing little to nothing about Stax, I said, ‘Yes,’ and when I arrived there, we were hurried into the main studio where all of the stars of Stax, including Dave Porter, Steve Cropper and Isaac Hayes, held a three-hour press conference in the round, sharing stories of the glory days of the label,” Levasseur told me. “For me, that was like mainlining Memphis soul crack. I got hooked right away. That random act of Southern hospitality changed my life completely!”
That experience inspired her to write Stuck In Soulsville, a song that made the rounds in Memphis and reached the ears of some influential folks.
“Charley Burch (a famed record producer and artist manager) came to catch a set of mine in a hotel room and walked right in on me singing Stuck In Soulsville with a couple of people dancing on the bed… and he was hooked,” Levasseur says. “He brought me to Royal and introduced me to Willie and Boo Mitchell.
“I think what they like about my sound is that it’s a tribute to the Memphis soul sound while still having my very own thing,” she adds. “We had such a blast in the studio and everyone there said they didn’t really know there was an old soul music scene happening in Canada.”
ALBUM REVIEW: Low Fidelity
AUTHOR: By David McPherson
DATE: November 2008
Where was this sweet, innocent, fill-a-room voice hiding? This dynamite disc opens with the powerful “Help Me Over,” co-written by Corin Raymond and Sean Cotton; the song explodes from the speakers like a gale force wind on a lonely prairie. Levasseur’s languid, “big, fat” voice builds and builds, guiding her and the listener to a cathartic climax. One imagines the sultry songstress leading a gospel choir in a rousing song of salvation in some rural Southern church. From this strong opener, the rest of the record is one choice cut after another — an equal mix of blues, gospel and jazz. While her voice is her strongest instrument, the chanteuse is backed by a dynamite band that includes producer David Baxter on guitar and Paul Reddick on harmonica. This is music that seeps into your soul with lines that linger long and don’t let go until the last note is sung. Leveraging the muscle of Muscle Shoals, the mojo of Motown and the blues from Chicago, Low Fidelity is Levasseur’s coming-out party; Toronto now has a new heroine of song.
ALBUM REVIEW: Low Fidelity
AUTHOR: Greg Quill
DATE: September 30, 2008
Treasa Levasseur – Low Fidelity 3 1/2 stars out of 4
Winnipeg-raised Levasseur is an exceptionally gifted singer-songwriter whose second album is a rich, wholly satisfying amalgam of original soul, blues and R&B confections that showcase her stunning voice and set her up – with help from primo session musicians like David Baxter and Derek Downham – for the big break. This is sophisticated, sassy adult music, with sexy hooks and raunchy licks.
Maple Blues Magazine
ALBUM REVIEW: Low Fidelity
AUTHOR: John Valentyn
DATE: October 1, 2008
There is a great deal to like about her second CD: Ms. Levasseur’s vocals are upfront & confident, she has some truly fine songs and an excellent band behind her. “The Good Ones Never Share” is a fascinating modern blues commenting on a wild lifestyle without ever actually concluding that change might be necessary. Paul Reddick supplies some appropriate harp, which he also does on “Low Fidelity”. It turns out that low fidelity is a problem her soon-to-be-ex partner has, not a comment on the recorded quality of the CD. She does play up the pun though with a lo-fi intro & extro. “(Me and my) Big Fat Mouth” speaks for itself as a title but does not describe its rocking tempo. You’ll be humming this long afterwards and maybe agreeing with the lyrics. A lovely soul ballad, “Talk To Me Baby” features DK Ibomeka on harmony vocal and his silky voice is perfect for the part. “Give Me Just One” is in a more traditional R&B style, as is “Stuck in Soulsville”, a most effective homage to the Stax sound. The album ends on a more serious note with “Amen”, an original gospel song pleading for more religious tolerance. There’s quite a large cast involved in this project so I’ll just say that many of the songs include a chorus & horns and that several players are used at each of the usual instruments, all firmly under the guidance of co-producers David Gavan Baxter & Ms. Levasseur. Long time guitarist Sean Cotton deserves mention as do keyboard aces Bill King & Julian Fauth.
CD RELEASE PARTY REVIEW, Not a Straight Line
AUTHOR: Andy Frank
While Torontonian blues-singer Treasa Levasseur has entertained thousands of people from coast-to-coast, appeared on dozens of indie recordings as a backing vocalist and musician, and written and collaborated on many songs, she has never released a full CD of her own — until March 9, 2006 at Lula Lounge.
Not a Straight Line is an all-dressed, mostly up-tempo blues disc, produced by guitarist David Baxter, and featuring some solid players, many of whom appeared with Treasa on stage for the release gig.
Treasa Levasseur took the long road to Lula Lounge, and it was time to celebrate! The concert stage required virtually all of Lula Lounge soundman Howard Laurie’s soundboard channels, as he rigged up mikes for trumpet, sax, two keyboards, bass, drums, two guitars, accordion, cello, stand-up bass, and countless voices.
Without fanfare, Treasa began the late evening festivities with a trio of beautiful slow numbers featuring her keyboard and vocals, Brian Kobayakawa on bass, and Kevin Fox on cello. Ironically, she opened the show with the CD’s closing track, “Singing Emma”, a song written about Treasa’s daughter. She followed that with a song penned by her outstanding opening act, The Undesirables, titled “Asking Me to Give You the Blues”, and then covered “If I Sang it Pretty” by legendary songwriter Bob Snider (who clearly enjoyed the whole gig from the back tables of Lula Lounge).
The classical instruments made way for the blues, and Treasa launched into the main portion of the show with a number titled “Solitary Man”, featuring some wonderful old organ sounds produced by the delicate digits of Richard Bell (who once played with Janis Joplin).
The highlight of the show for this sentimental reviewer was the beautiful “Nickels and Dimes” with superstar-in-waiting Justin Rutledge adding supporting vocals, and featuring Treasa’s gorgeous accordion solo.
With old boyfriends lyrically buried, the horns came out of the wings, and the party swung into overdrive with sax and trumpet players Mark Jarvis and Arthur Kerekes (God Made Me Funky). During “Learn to Let Go”, Treasa’s vocals matched the soaring trumpet note for note, a most impressive display of her powerful range.
“Learn to Let Go” also served as a good example of Treasa Levasseur’s accessible lyrics, which stretch from broken hearts to eastern-style philosophical musings — a refreshing digression from the usual “I’m broke and miserable” blues-fodder.
From “Learn to Let Go”
Letting go is easy, holding on is hard
It’s the clutch and struggle that’ll leave you scarred
The path of pardon is the path of peace
When I lose attachment then I gain release
Just one spirit, just one soul
We’re all part of one whole
Treasa Levasseur’s road to Lula Lounge might have been a long one, and certainly “Not a Straight Line“, but it appears to have been a path whose gifts are golden.
Time Canada Arts: Pick of the Week
AUTHOR: Leigh Anne Williams
Even Canadian women get the blues sometimes. But a [new CD] lets us hear how just good the blues can be, especially if you mix it up a bit with some generous borrowing from other genres.
Treasa Levasseur’s Not a Straight Line is an eclectic melange of blues, jazz, funk, rock, and even a subtle note of country. Consistent throughout are Levasseur’s fresh lyrics and mature storytelling. In Solitary Man, the most straightforward blues number on the CD, Levasseur sings of a man with “a hole in his heart about five miles wide.” The singer would be his “sweet remedy,” but the sad truth she tells us is that even though he says she’s “so lovely, she could get a guy high,” there’s no rescuing him from his despair. In the title track, we meet a physicist and the lover who doesn’t speak his language of numbers and infinity. A country song, Nickels and Dimes, introduces us to a woman trying to account for the cost of a love that isn’t showing much return. “She wonders where all of the interest went/ She knows it won’t break her, but it sure leaves a dent.” Learn to Let Go is more philosophical than narrative, but who knew Buddhist thought had so much jazz and funk in it? The CD is an impressive achievement for the 32-year-old Torontonian, who spends her days traveling in a van full of instruments making house calls to teach music to children.
Ottawa Blues Society Newsletter
AUTHOR: James Doran
Worthy in its Ways
Think Joni Mitchell, Etta James, Carole King and Dusty Springfield rolled into one – all influences according to her bio. Treasa’s powerful yet sensitive voice has great range – it can whisper, cry, soar with joy and blast you out of your seat – sometimes all in the same song! She has superb pacing and a feel for a tune that characterizes all the great ones. She’s also a first class songwriter (every song on the CD is original) with lyrics that emote, entice and captivate. And can she play! – piano, accordion, guitar, mandolin, percussion and a Rhodes and diamonica – whatever they are? Add in a theatre background (actress, playwright, producer) and a career as a successful children’s music teacher/entertainer and you have the versatile, eclectic and talented package that is Treasa Levasseur.
Not a Straight Line is not straight blues. There are elements of jazz, folk, rock, soul, swing, boogie-woogie, salsa, C&W, ballads and gospel on this album. iTunes show her as “unclassifiable” under their genre category – appropriate I thought. Treasa’s music reflects her background. Over the years she has played with such diverse artists as Pan Con Queso, Dan Whiteley, the Undesirables and Serena Ryder. On this CD she is joined by David Baxter (who also produces it) and a host of other talented musicians including the incomparable Richard Bell (Janis Joplin, Colin Linden) on piano, organ & clavinet and Carlos del Junco on harp.
I like every song from the slow & soulful opener “Brotherlover” to the last lullaby “Singing Emma” – dedicated to her daughter. But the ones that jump out and bite me are: “Asking me to give you the blues” – a sultry, smoky, jazzy blues tune that evokes memories of Dusty Springfield with some sweet harp work by Carlos; “Solitary Man” – slow and melancholy with great lyrics and occasional flights of soaring vocal power from Treasa: “One” – a swinging cha-cha piece featuring horns, flute, percussion, piano and Treasa’s lovely voice that puts me on a beach somewhere in Mexico; and lastly, my favourite – “Worthy In Its Ways” – an upbeat, soulful, hand-clappin’ southern Baptist gospel tune that just makes you feel good – “..good old Jesus still had somethin’ to say – He said love each other, treat everybody like your sister or your brother…” Ain’t that the way!
The Toronto Star
Mary Poppins Sings the Blues
…thoughtful bluesy songs she sublimely delivers on her debut CD Not a Straight Line.
The singer/songwriter who describes her style as “sincere, sassy, soul” wrote most of the tracks, based on the ebbs and flow of her own life.
And with songs such as “Brother Lover” ( I know that you’re not in love with me and that our time has come to pass) and “Solitary Man” (Sad when he calls me, and I’m sad when he don’t/Wish that he’d need me, but I know he won’t) it’s apparently not all the sunshine and light she brings to her day job.
“Aren’t we all melancholy sometimes and sometimes upbeat?” said Levasseur of the ranging emotions on the songs which she has dubbed rootsoul…. also proficient on accordion and piano, she has played and sung with several local bands and previously released a CD under the name Slim.
In 1999, she said she was “living in a crazy little hippie commune” of artists and urban activists when she agreed to run a friend’s child-entertainment business. She has now developed the venture — on word of mouth alone — to a 200-name waiting list. “I love it,” she said. “Little kids are so much fun and I love being my own boss.”
Her two worlds collided yesterday at the show/launch of Not a Straight Line at Lula Lounge. Decked out in strapless red chiffon, Levasseur’s audience included some of her pupils and their parents, and her opening act was the Levy Brothers, a band of three, 9 to 14, whom she taught piano.
ALBUM REVIEW: Help Me Over
AUTHOR: Chris Brown
On Help Me Over, Treasa Levasseur sings that she is looking for music she “wants to dance to” and Low Fidelity certainly has more than its share of smokey dancehall numbers. Her voice is strong yet feminine, and can hold its own in this bluesy mix of Toronto’s finest. Paul Reddick’s distinctive electric harp work, Derek Downham’s killer keys and David Gavan Baxter and Sean Cotton’s tasty guitar riffs stand out for me. Low Fidelity begins with a horn blast that will part your hair, and Treasa’s vocal scolding plays off Reddick’s back-talking harp throughout. Yum!
Music Review Unsigned – Artist of the Month (Irish)
Treasa Levasseur from Toronto,Canada has to have one of the finest upcoming voices in the industry, each and every track on her album Low Fidelity has got a real vintage tone from blues to jazz with a modern pop twist, Treasa has got a superb gospel blues voice to die for…The 10 tracks on this album has got some talented musicians on board with some fine brass and piano to melt any heart, Track 1″Help Me” moody and strong in the rhythm section and the vocals take control with some fantastic use of voice dynamics in parts of the song,this tune has gospel blues with a cool melodic guitar riff.
Track 2 “Good Ones Never Share” you can almost feel a Chicago blues feel coming from this song, maybe its the sneaky harmonica or just the good deep sexy blues tone each instrument expresses.
Track 3 “Talk To Me Babe” Jazzy blues and soft vocals make this song sing for it’s self, the low key tones on the piano creates a perfect mood to fuel this beautiful love song.
Track 4 “Truth Will Set You Free” A Latin jazz groove is the bass tone for this tune and Treasa’s voice floats just at a nice level singing each tone with perfection super stuff.
Track 5 “Low Fidelity” upbeat and moving with hints of country blues and some catchy lyrics, Treasa turns on some fantastic vocals in this song with lots of gospel charm, commercial and radio friendly.
Track 6 “Big Fat Mouth” I can hear some elements of rock/blues and sweet soulful brass to sass up the beat, its a catchy number with a chorus that will have you singing over and over again.
Track 7 “Give Me Just One” Blues and the standard kind but with the superb voice of Treasa behind it, the shuffle on the drums and the brass excites the rhythm to create a bit of soul, check out the piano solo class stuff.
Track 8 “Rest of The Ride” This has pure passion and feel in every drop of sound, gospel style with a kind of blues lullaby tone and very strong vocals from Treasa in this song, breathless..
Track 9 “Stuck in Soulsville” This song has a real funky blues bass groove soaked in Soul and some great catchy lyrics, the beat sits almost behind the rhythm adding to Treasa’s seductive voice, excellent stuff.
Track 10 “Amen” This is a slow gospel/blues and moody song, very well written and Treasa shines like a bright star on this track filling the song with her soulful gospel voice.
Low Fidelity Review (USA)
AUTHOR: Ben the Harpman
DATE: August 2009
Juke Joint Soul
This one will probably be the best pop-soul disc no one here in the States will hear all year. I found myself fortunate when the artist herself sent this 10-song set to me via the mail a month back. Treasa Levasseur makes her home in Toronto, Canada and bustles around the city like a full-time working musician, not only supporting herself but other artists. Drawing most of her influences from the likes of Annie Lennox, Mavis Staples, Carole King, and a number of other great female singers. Levasseur has a powerful voice and a quick wit as she sets in motion her first disc in two years.
The album opener “Help Me Over” is a quick build as Levasseur unleashes some growling but soulful chops on this plea to get over the hump. This one has a southern soul music bounce. The album takes off from there going down classic R&B and soul romps as well as tipping the hat to King and Lennox’s songwriting and delivery skills on the pop-adult contemporary crossover side of things. “Give Me Just One” is pure classic R&B and delivered fully drenched in horn and soulful shouts. Guitarist/producer David Baxter and guitarist Sean Cotton provide as the liner notes suggest “cool grooves and hot licks” and vice versa. Canadian blues heavyweights Julian Fauth and Paul Reddick provide back up on a few tracks. Reddick really shines here in the soul vein as a sideman. “Amen” is a gospel shout that draws and flies on the whims of Levesseur’s soul-steeped vocals. From chanteuse to shouter to sanctified, Levesseur shows the depth and poise of an artist ready to break into the mainstream markets here in the U.S. and overseas. The album is comparable to Janiva Magness’ last release What Love Will Do as far as its polish, quality of vocals and arrangement, and sheer enjoyment the record brings to any listener.
Levesseur is ready. She’s ready big time. She’s got the voice. She can write. And I’ll let you in on a secret – she’s got the looks, too. Watch out now – this lady with soul is ready to have you shouting for her number or depending on the song, shouting for the Lord! This is one Hi-Fi release America, and Europe, and the rest of the world won’t want to miss out on!