Jef Elise Barbara La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC, September 23

Jef Elise Barbara La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC, September 23
Photo: Steve Louie
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Genre-mashing local darling Jef Elise Barbara commandeered a synthesizer and electronic beats while flanked by a bassist, saxophonist, and backup singer. The sound called back to nebulous '80s pop, when disco and new wave didn't quite know what they were doing with each other, only that it felt so right.
 
The meticulousness of the bass and rhythmic foundation of many of the songs is on another level of sophistication, offering strong support for Barbara, who's a compelling singer. When they left the keyboard and were able to simply sing and connect with the audience, they and the performance seemed the most free. It's hard to let go when you've put so much thought into every bilingual detail, but these wishful, joyous songs of longing by Barbara are best set loose.