Valery Gore The Rivoli, Toronto ON, December 19

Valery Gore The Rivoli, Toronto ON, December 19
Photo: Jenny Schaefer
Unless an artist has already been swept up in a wave of hype generated elsewhere, Canada can be a little slow to recognize world-class homegrown talent. Such is the case with remarkably skilled and progressive songwriter Valery Gore. Despite being a modern master of her craft who should be commonly invoked as an artist of the calibre of Fiona Apple, the majority of the music-going public hasn't caught on to the sophisticated wonder of this jazzy experimental pop composer. Those in the know, however, were treated to a fantastic set full of material from Gore's upcoming third album, Idols In The Dark Heart.

Backed by the full team of top-notch musicians who help her realize her expansive creativity in the studio — bassist extraordinaire Devon Henderson, fluid multi-instrumentalist David French, highly adept vibraphonist Michael Davidson and the precise, polyrhythmic Daniel Neill on drums (both acoustic and electronic) — Gore once again demonstrated that she's quite possibly the most underrated sonic artist in this or any other country, breathing new life into traditional song forms with idiosyncratic melodies, subtly complex rhythms and eclectic arrangements that reveal an expansive listening palate.

Songs like "Hummingbirds in Reverse," "Clean Break" and "July" showcased the songwriter's growth, delving into harmonically dark tribal territory and effectively utilizing looping and whimsical instrumental interplay to spice up her already expressive sound. Throughout the set, the impeccable Devon Henderson switched between bass guitar and bass synth, the later of which works exceptionally well as the warm and fuzzy backbone of standout forward-looking song "With the Future." Fans of Gore's more delicate and arresting jazzy touch were knocked out by the breathtakingly beautiful "Character Girls Quiet Guys" — or rather, they were if they were listening as intently as this reviewer, which, judging by the overly loud chatter lining the room, may not have been the case.

While the sound mix was largely excellent at the Rivoli, the desultory lighting didn't help to focus the fickle crowd's attention on a relatively shy performer who lets her incredible music do the talking. And maybe that's all that's holding Valery Gore back; she's a gimmick-free girl in a gimmick-centric world. With material this strong, though, the rich sonic character of her craft shines through for those willing to invest the requisite attention.