Scarlett Jane Marquee Club, Halifax NS, January 26

Scarlett Jane Marquee Club, Halifax NS, January 26
Photo: Lindsay Duncan
5
You have to respect Scarlett Jane's immaculate precision. There are no bum notes to be found in Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire's ridiculously on-target harmonies. Their minor-key melodies don't just flirt with but openly fondle the familiar, echoing a long, lovely lineage of sad folk songs. And the two Toronto-based songwriters are charmingly engaging performers, even when faced with a chatty Marquee Club crowd.

And yet, I found myself underwhelmed. Where was the danger? The tension? The grit in the throat, the blood in the cheek? Everything was so perfectly placed that the experience felt clinical. Perhaps the acoustic accompaniment was to blame: with only a violin to support the guitars, there was a certain sameness to the material. On 2012's Stranger, the bass and drums give the duo's songs drive and momentum; without them, "Aching Heart" lacks sufficient ache, and "Can't Come Back" never feels like it's really going anywhere. It still sounded pretty as all heck, but disappointingly edgeless.