‘What If It All Means Something’ showcases the emotional terrain of someone who not only feels deeply but has the guts to explore those feelings and the talent to articulate them. “There’s a lot of love, a lot of learning and a lot of letting go,” Chantal says about the album’s themes. With her sometimes delicate, sometimes dramatic soprano, Chantal delivers the richly arranged piano ballads she’s best known for while charting new musical courses, trusting her inner vision to lead the way. Where “In This Life” is an ode to unconditional devotion, “Julia” and “Miss April” take on the ironies of celebrity. “Weight of the World” is a giddy adieu to burdens and baggage. The passionate “Time” embraces a seize-the-moment ethos while the offbeat, Asian-accented “Ready for Your Love” revels in complete surrender.
Her third full-length album, ‘What If…’ ups the ante on an artistic promise that first became evident at the age of three. Classically trained on piano up through her college years, Chantal began writing her own music in earnest while recuperating from an accident. Some of the songs that came alive during that period wound up on ‘Under These Rocks and Stones,’ her double platinum, 1997 debut. Her sophomore release, ‘Colour Moving and Still,’ also double platinum, netted two major honors–Best Female Artist and Best Pop/Adult Album (in categories with Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion and Joni Mitchell)–at the 2000 Juno Awards.
Long time fans will recognize the album as Chantal’s most fully-realized work to date. “When I first got my record deal, I felt so blessed, but also like I owed people something,” she explains. “I used to be concerned about everybody else – now I’m taking ownership of myself and my music and just letting it be. When you’re true to yourself, the best comes out of you.”
In throwing off both pressures and expectations, Chantal found herself free to experiment with various approaches to her process. For one thing, she continued composing on guitar. “I taught myself, with a little help from some friends,” she says. “It’s a great writing tool for me.” Though several of her new songs have a pop-rocky six-string feeling, Chantal felt motivated to give others the piano parts they cried out for. “I really embraced the piano on this record,” she says. “I went back to “In This Life” and “Time,” which were written on guitar, so I could create a piano space for them.”
Perhaps the most personally delightful new direction Chantal took in creating ‘What If It All Means Something’ was to collaborate with her husband, Raine Maida (frontman for Our Lady Peace). “It happened really naturally but very prolifically–we just banged them out,” Chantal says. “We weren’t even like, ‘Let’s sit down and write a song.’ We’d just be jamming and things would pop out.”
Unfortunately, not every song has such joyous roots. “”Flying Home” is about my cousin who died suddenly last year,” Chantal reveals. “She was like a sister and my best friend – I wrote the song on the plane, going to her funeral.” The poignant track, “In This Life,” is about seeing the potential and beauty in a person and accepting them for who they are, and saying you will be there no matter what.”
In Chantal Kreviazuk’s multi-hued musical world, sorrow can be uplifting, falsity can render truth, loss and release can ultimately result in personal growth, and the most challenging relationships can be the most rewarding of all. Although this may seem contradictory, it reflects Chantal’s perspective on life as well as her place in it. “There are many dimensions to being a woman my age today,” she explains. “I need a lot of love, I’m sensitive and pensive and spiritual, but I am also raw and in control.”