Saltland Boarding House Arts, Guelph ON, April 9

Saltland Boarding House Arts, Guelph ON, April 9
Photo: Matt Forsythe

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Rebecca Foon loves Guelph. In as many words, she told this to the crowd at Boarding House Arts, and everyone beamed back. Guelph, it turns out, loves Rebecca Foon.
 
Without romanticizing the city too much, it's a resilient hive for environmental activism. That makes a welcome environment for people like Foon, whose A Common Truth — her latest solo release as Saltland — serves as a collection of meditations on climate change. She wrote the album in the lead-up to the Paris UN climate change conference that took place in 2015.
 
Over the course of her half-hour set, she provided a relatively stripped down performance of material from the album free of its piano and guitars, Foon's voice and looping cello joined only by Esmerine bandmate Bruce Cawdron's methodical glockenspiel and vibraphone bowing.
 
Transcending the layered density it's often buried amongst on her compositions, here, Foon's voice was more prominent in the mix, almost as if the artist found a safer space for them amongst the residents of Guelph. That theme carried over into the space between songs, too, especially when, in a moving audience address that wished for collaboration "through innovation and compassion and love — to create a sustainable future for us all that includes building resilient, beautiful cities that are not dependent on greenhouse gas emissions," Foon dedicated "Light of Mercy" to "all of us."
 
"Even though the Paris agreement happened, here we are today."