It was snowing heavily outside in Vancouver on Saturday night (February 4), the white stuff coming down in thick clumps. The Lido, a pint-sized venue, was packed tightly in anticipation of Louise Burns, who was celebrating the release of her third album, Young Mopes. The local chanteuse would provide a warm refuge from the blizzard with a short-but-sweet performance that displayed both technical prowess and artistic growth.
Just 31 years old, and with an equally youthful appearance including a fringed haircut and rosy cheeks, it's almost hard to believe that Burns is a music industry veteran of two decades — she started her longstanding career in 1997 as a member of the pop-rock group Lillix and later went on to have her solo debut, Mellow Drama, longlisted for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. Her experience, however, was obvious the moment she stepped onstage.
Her demeanour at once relaxed and commanding, Burns effortlessly glided through her set, laughing with her band in between songs, bantering with the crowd and consistently delivering rich, velvety vocals. She swayed with her eyes shut as she strummed her low-slung bass, looking out steadily at the room on "Who's the Madman," a gorgeous and dreamily infectious cut from her new record. Lyrics like "you spend your life spinning out of control" complemented the psychedelic backdrop visuals.
Moments from Burns' past catalogue — like the sweetly melodic "Ruby," and the slow-burning "Emeralds Shatter," both from 2013's The Midnight Mass — fit well against the dark synths and reflective tone of her new material. It was an apt demonstration of how she has progressed as an artist; performed side-by-side, the works sustained and supported each other. Young Mopes' "Moonlight Shadow" — "A ballad, if you will, about my ongoing relationship with this beautiful woman," Burns said, turning to grin at bandmate and fellow local female powerhouse Jody Glenham — perhaps perfectly encapsulated Burns' current musical state: nuanced, contemplative and moving forward, while remaining true to herself.
After heartfelt thanks to the audience, the evening ended with "Storms," a jangly earworm that left the crowd chanting for "one more song." Though the encore never came, smiling faces were indicative that Burns left her audience with enough warmth to carry over to the real storm waiting outside.