Chloe Charles El Mocambo, Toronto, ON, March 23

Chloe Charles El Mocambo, Toronto, ON, March 23
Photo: Kevin Jones
There was a palpable buzz in the air as singer-songwriter Chloe Charles and her band, among them a violinist and cellist, made the final adjustments to their sound and setup before kicking off their highly anticipated showcase. With a fresh new record in stores and a recent European tour in the bag, Charles has been turning heads in a number of different quarters for an expansive vocal and musical talent that has seen her compared to everyone from Björk and Beth Gibbons to Billie Holiday and Joni Mitchell.

Hints of those comparisons and many more were on display throughout her mesmerizing set in front of the sizable gathering of anxious concertgoers who heated up the often chilly El Mocambo's second-floor concert space. The quaint folk of her show opener, accented by soft violin finger plucking, quickly gave way to the heavier rock feel of its follow-up, the first of many stylistic shifts on a night that would see elements of soul, pop and jazz seep into the mix.

The singer managed to turn a song dedicated to a friend going through an identity crisis into a chipper affair before completely flipping the mood on a later ballad of loss to one so dramatic that you could feel a cold wind blowing through the song's clenched bass tones, brooding cello swells and scurrying guitar touches. A clear show highlight came in Charles' offering of a completely transformed rendition of Carol King's classic "So Far Away," in dedication to her late father — an emotional cut that came in softly but would find the singer's monstrous vocal abilities completely unchained by the track's end.

As the closing sounds of the show's sleek, dubstep-referencing final tune drifted through the air and a shower of applause rained down in appreciation of each incredibly talented musician on that stage, there was little question as to why such a diverse cross-section of music fans and seasoned players alike have been caught by Charles' impressive creative light.