“A passionate album by a wonderful songwriter.”
“First impressions are lasting impressions. That being the case, Dana LaCroix has nothing to fear.”
The Performing Songwriter Magazine
“A dynamic performer with a fabulous voice”
Denny Doherty (The Mamas and The Papas)
“With an uncanny ability to find the heart of a song, LaCroix is really onto something.”
David Malachowski, The Daily Freeman
“ LaCroix’s songs…are vivid evocations of what have become American archetypes: searching for freedom on the open road, the joy of letting one’s inner bad girl out, even for a while….LaCroix masters the art of connecting with the audience.”
Shirley O'Shea, The Daily Star
While folk and roots music reside at the heart of her work, Canadian-born singer/songwriter, Dana LaCroix, draws from a deeper well that’s also filled with country, R&B, pop, rock and more. Her emotive vocalizing, heartfelt, sophisticated songcraft and superb musicianship are the mark of an artist who knows instinctively how to find her way deep inside of a lyric and take us in there with her.
Versatile, refined and skilled, LaCroix has attracted such admirers as Canadian legend Gordon Lightfoot, the late Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas, and journalists and radio DJs in the United States, Canada and abroad.
Her original songs, described by one reviewer as “vivid evocations of… American archetypes” are collected on
her recent cd, Moving On, Looking Back, a retrospective that includes tunes from her previous releases - Pride, and the EPs Faith In You and Jump In — as well as some brand new tracks. LaCroix’s musical journey has recently led her to collaborations with other like-minded artists, most notably acclaimed blues guitarist and vocalist, Murali Coryell, (son of guitar legend Larry Coryell) with whom she recorded a Coryell-penned duet, which is featured on the new cd.
At times edgy and defiant, the songs on Moving On, Looking Back are vivid evocations of what have become American archetypes: searching for freedom on the open road, the joy of letting one’s inner bad girl out, even for a while, waiting for Prince Charming to ride up “on a black Harley.” “Cinderella’s Sister is a song that’s been percolating inside me since I was about 14”, says Dana. “It’s an anthem for anyone who has ever felt cast aside and misunderstood - and really, who hasn’t?”
LaCroix’s earlier album, Jump In, gave notice that her music was stepping up and moving toward a new place, both lyrically and structurally. “Most of the songs on Jump In are connected to growing older, recognizing the personal struggles of others, the belief in redemption,” she says. One standout track, “Take A Swing at the Moon,” acknowledges the higher stakes connected to jumping into relationships. Dana sings: “Dark dead end road, ill wind blowing/Midnight rain pouring down, hear the sound/It’s spelling out your name like a bad omen/You’re out in the cold, trying to find a way home again/The clouds are cracking up and you can see the light/Grab that silver lining and hold on tight.”
For LaCroix, Moving On, Looking Back is both a view to the future and a summation of where she came from. Literally, that place was Toronto, and Dana attributes her Canadian upbringing to helping her discover her artistry. LaCroix’s father, a former singer who performed with Canadian vocal group, The Halifax Three, (which included the late Denny Doherty, lead singer of the Mamas and the Papas), was her first musical influence. One of her earliest memories is of listening to the different voices on her Dad’s old LPs and trying to guess which was his.
Growing up at home, music was in the air she breathed. “I learned from the cradle that music is something that people share on an everyday level,” LaCroix says. “I think it’s a shame that so many people are raised experiencing music as something that is on a screen or made only by professionals. Back in the old days making music together was a social norm for families and communities. I was lucky to have been raised that way. When my sister and I were little my dad used to sing us songs at night instead of reading us stories. The first song I remember from my childhood is the ballad of John Henry.” (A version, featuring LaCroix on vocals and spoons, is one of the highlight tracks on Moving On, Looking Back. “Growing up, our house was the place where all our friends would gather to sing songs around the piano with my dad. It was the hub of the neighborhood, because we made music together.”
Both her father and Doherty, whose lead vocals on such Mamas and the Papas hits as “California Dreamin’” and “Monday, Monday” are folk-rock classics, provided inspiration. “I loved hearing their road stories about the the Hootenanny Tours with Peter, Paul and Mary, the Big 3, the Journeymen, and other folk groups. The ’60s was a time of real social change, and music was a big part of that. They told about joining protests outside segregated venues, getting run out of town by the KKK, and I grew up learning that there was a natural connection between music-making and social issues. I’ve always thought of playing music as an activity that brings people together, facilitates communication and heals rifts.”
When Dana began making her own music, folk venues were nonexistent in Toronto, so she gravitated toward blues. That down-to-earth quality remains an essential component of her style and can be heard in her earliest recording, 1998’s Pride, and on 2007’s Faith In You. Realism is integral in her words and in the arrangements of her songs. “The blues influence has been ever present,” she says. “I’m not sure why, but it is. It’s universal, I guess. Even as a listener, I can think of very few styles of music I enjoy that are completely void of the blues element.”
Although her Canadian roots run deep, LaCroix left her home country years ago, restlessly chasing her muse. She began her songwriting life while living in Denmark, then tried New York City for a while and now lives in the more bucolic environs of New York State. “Living here in the U.S., especially living in New York City as a low-income artist, as I did for years, keeps you on your toes, and sharpens your creativity. And the wealth of experience, the musicians you meet who are all hungry, trying out different things, finding a way to stay alive, keep the rent paid and keep creating—it’s invigorating.” But the move upstate came, she says, from a desire for a less hectic lifestyle. “It got too hard. I wanted to pursue my dream of living in on the land: planting a garden, growing vegetables, looking out at the mountains every day; it helps keep life in perspective. You’re less likely to focus on the unimportant things.”
Where does she want to go from here? “One of my dreams is to be a kind of traveling minstrel, getting a horse-drawn wagon with a pull down stage and wandering through upstate towns playing for tips,” she says, adding “I’m serious!”
But as serious as she may be, she prefers to leave the future to itself. “It’s impossible for me to say where I’ll go artistically from here, because it’s all so connected to life experiences,” she concludes, “and you never know what’s going to happen next.”