Lisa Leblanc

Club Soda, Montreal QC, November 20

Photo: Luke Orlando

BY Scott SimpsonPublished Nov 21, 2014

After releasing her self-titled debut album back in 2012, Lisa LeBlanc saw her profile rise significantly within French Canada and in French-speaking countries, which led to the Acadian folk-rock singer spending much time on the road and inspiring her latest release. While her debut was written and recorded solely in French, with the help of Louis-Jean Cormier of Karkwa fame, her newest EP is her first official foray into English music territory, one that's guaranteed to attract a whole new slew of fans. Not all of the July Talk fans at the Club Soda stayed to see her perform, but those who did were treated to a stellar performance that presented LeBlanc as a star in the making.

If anything, the small but enthusiastic crowd seemed to swell throughout the set, with backroom stragglers entranced by LeBlanc's spirited banjo and guitar work, as well as the group dynamic she's developed with drummer Maxime and guitarist JP. The trio kicked off their performance with a raucous delivery of new song "Gold Diggin' Hoedown," and would continue to inject their set with English songs off the excellent Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted EP, including a fantastic cover of Karen Dalton's "Katie Cruel," throughout.

There was a lot of love between LeBlanc and the crowd, with the young musician repeatedly professing her love for Montreal and saying how happy she was to perform here before launching a new Canada-wide tour. She recalls her move to Montreal, moving out of a 51-person village and landing on the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Laurent, and thinking, "What the hell am I doing here," a story she explores on her song "Downtown." After breaking a banjo string due to strumming too hard during "You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)" and her cover of Motörhead's "Ace Of Spades," LeBlanc quipped that she felt badass, as she should — she has major skills on both the guitar and the banjo. After thanking the lighting and sound technicians, she took the time to talk about the Dr. Julian Foundation and its Garage À Musique initiative, to which all the night's funds were being donated.

LeBlanc's performance of new song "Race Track" highlighted one of her biggest strengths, which is her ability to lull one into a false sense of soft security before launching into epic breakdowns that stop just as abruptly as they start, demonstrating a mastery of her instrument and material. With the English EP already receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews, it's just a matter of time before you start seeing Lisa LeBlanc's name pop up a little everywhere, just as it should.

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