Published Sep 23, 2008Laura Barrett and her Toronto cohorts fed the ears and stomachs of eager audience members at the Tranzac last weekend during her CD release brunch for her new album, Victory Garden. To coincide with the first day of fall, and the sentiments of the album, Barrett decided to serve her fans the fruits of the harvest season as well as her own musical labour.
Dan Werb, sans his Woodhands co-pilot Paul Banwatt, took to the piano for slowed-down and sombre versions of his usually up-tempo Woodhands songs. The crowd, which would have normally been on their feet dancing, sat so quietly you could hear the creaking of Werbs seat as he swayed back and forth to his songs.
While video footage of their uncles bar mitzvah silently played in the background, Ghost Bees performed a delightfully timid set. The twin sisters from Halifax, who play the mandolin and the acoustic guitar, sang whimsical harmonies about their familys history. Stage banter about their homemade teas and their mispronunciation of the name Goethe was almost as entertaining as their meandering, storybook lyrics.
Refraining from her usual solo kalimba approach, seven other musicians accompanied Barrett on stage. Cello, vibraphone and bassoon were included, expanding Barretts new material into a spastic array of textures. In the dimly lit backroom of the Tranzac, she opened with "Bluebird, a misty, orch-pop piece that surrounds her kalimba sound with layers of complimentary instrumentation.
Barrett was charming and modest on stage as she introduced each new song and indulged the audience in some older material from her EP, Earth Sciences. The crowd seemed to revel in her older work, especially "Robot Ponies, which earned a distinct hush and mouthing of lyrics from long-time fans. "I feel like Im in a stage musical about this performance, Barrett joked between songs.
For someone used to being on stage alone, Barrett seems to fit right into the ensemble set-up, and her fans will thank her for it.