Venue, Vancouver, BC, October 16
As Orton started into "Heart of Soul" from her previous album, 2006's Comfort of Strangers, the distinctiveness of her voice became clear. In a falsetto, it seemed as though her voice might disintegrate like a moth's wings at any moment, but she was deeply evocative in her comfort zone, tempered by the waves of life experience she has tread since last she appeared on these shores, including marriage, motherhood, being dumped by her label and entering her 40s.
Armed only with two dry acoustic guitars and a mic, Orton progressed to perform "Touch Me with Your Love" from 1996's Trailer Park before moving to "Magpie" from Sugaring Season. Oddly enough, her falsetto seemed to firm up for the latter, newer song, enhancing her aura of conviction. Though she would return to older material later — care of a call for requests that led to a well-received version of "Stolen Car" from 1999's Central Reservation and, for the encore, that album's highly demanded title track — she generally appeared more confident in her new material.
"Something More Beautiful" showcased her sublime lyricism and subtle delivery, while "State of Grace" emphasized her droning, circular picking style. "Candles" was the clear highlight, though. Stripping away the strings, drums and electric piano of the recorded version to reveal its heart-wrenching and haunting core, the crowd got so quiet during this song, one could hear people selectively cough on the balcony at the back from up near the stage.
Ultimately, one of the most striking things about Orton's set was how free of pretension it was. Appearing in a loose, white shirt and blue jeans, with her hair somewhat mussy, she sheepishly made small talk about her tour details and complimented the city, noting its many sidewalk dwellers, occasionally mumbling away from the mic. She claimed "Poison Tree" was co-written with William Blake, whether he liked it or not, and when she, perhaps karmically, messed up a lyric, she admitted to it, kept calm and carried on without missing a beat.
ReviewsMay 26, 2015
Shakey GravesSasquatch Stage, George WA, May 24
Last year at Sasquatch, Shakey Graves performed at the small Yeti stage and managed to pack the venue to the brim as fans and music lovers f...
ReviewsApr 30, 2015
Sufjan StevensMassey Hall, Toronto ON, April 29
It wasn't until halfway through his Massey Hall set that Sufjan Stevens finally addressed the elephant in the room. His new album, Carrie an...
ReviewsApr 26, 2015
Downtown Music Crawl with Peter Willie Youngtree, Ginger Snaps, Jon Mckiel, Susie Asado and Painful ShiversVarious Venues, St. John's NL, April 26
Sunday's Downtown Music Crawl followed the same format as the Quidi Vidi edition on Saturday. It started at Model Citizen, where Painful ...
ReviewsApr 26, 2015
Quidi Vidi Music Crawl with Dark for Dark, Gianna Lauren, Donovan Woods and WeavesVarious Venues, St. John's NL, April 25
The Quidi Vidi Music Crawl is just another example of Lawnya Vawnya's attention to detail, as the fest allows patrons to hit all of landmark...
ReviewsApr 12, 2015
Mike Edel / Towers and TreesThe Roxy Theatre, Victoria BC, April 11
About six weeks ago, Mike Edel and Adrian Chalifour, vocalist and guitarist of opening act Towers and Trees, spent the day madly cycling aro...
ReviewsMar 31, 2015
The DecemberistsMassey Hall, Toronto ON, March 30
From the second he strolled onstage holding a wine glass and acoustic guitar, the Decemberists' frontman Colin Meloy cleverly and self-aware...
ReviewsFeb 22, 2015
Kevin Morby / Jessica Pratt / Malcolm JackElectric Owl, Vancouver BC, February 21
This was a cool bill from start to finish. Vancouver's Malcolm Jack opened with selections from his dreamy Dada Plan project, all jangly sol...
ReviewsJan 25, 2015
The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer / Ben RogersDistrikt Nightclub, Victoria BC, January 24
On a night featuring a couple of "up and coming" indie blues and country bands, you would expect a young hip crowd out in full force, but th...