Michael Rault The Great Hall, Toronto ON, June 13

Michael Rault The Great Hall, Toronto ON, June 13
Photo: Tiana Feng
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Like extracting the bread basket in Operation, musical homage makes for tricky business; just ask the influx of British faux-Americana acts who, despite their mountains of cash, have endured a critical lashing. Edmonton, AB singer-guitarist Michael Rault has no interest in banjos, though his sound does hearken back to a different, dirtier time. Still, he did not lean too heavily on pastiche or allusion, instead creating an unassuming yet enthralling show that injected freshness into familiar sounds. Accompanied by just his electric guitar and a part-time assist from a second guitarist/back-up vocalist, Rault's stage setup was sparse — a full band typically accompanies him — but it still packed a punch.

Initially, a solo Rault sparingly strummed away, relying on a rockabilly guitar. "Fall in Love with Every Girl I See" upped the ante with a dirtier groove and a 1960s pop vocal melody. By "I Wanna Love You" — the set's stickiest song — he had widened his range, blending honky-tonk, garage, and a tiny dash of surf. The versatile songsmith tied together bygone genres and generally ol' school rock with gruff vocals. Whether jamming on a vaguely remembered song or discussing his ad hoc set list, Rault was affable throughout.