Jackson Nova Monarch Tavern, Toronto ON, June 14

7
His Canadian debut performance may not have been totally auspicious, given the sparse crowd in attendance, but English alt-folk singer/songwriter Jackson Nova did impress. He has a debut album, A Constant State Of Change, finished and ready to roll out, and will play the Glastonbury and Reading festivals this year, so is clearly attracting attention back home. Here, he was accompanied by a skilled multi-instrumentalist identified only as Rich. He contributed ably on harmony vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, and, on one song, the smallest ukulele you'll see. Nova came armed only with acoustic guitar and a rich and powerful voice of real dramatic power, so the duo sound was strikingly full. His sound has elicited comparisons to the likes of Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice, while a song like "The Letter" sounded like a condensed version of that epic Brit-rock sound. The pair sat down for some of the quieter material, and mellower material such as "On A Day Like This" was reminiscent of the work of John Martyn. Nova displayed a warm stage persona and real patience in ignoring one annoyingly yappy group in attendance. He's clearly a believer in the adage of "leave them wanting more," given that his set was of just 30 minutes duration, not the NXNE standard 40. Let's hope his desire to return here will be realized.