This show review sought to highlight the similarities and differences among a group of local acts whose sounds ranged from Indie-folk to electronic Free Jazz by way of Electro-Soul – thus offering window into the diversity of musical styles that abound in Montreal.
Having growing up in a city whose main claim to fame is the promise of a stable career in government, running into old high-school friends in Montreal has become quite the common occurrence. This past Wednesday, I once again found myself running into an old pal from my hometown. Like most instances, the encounter took place at a bar. Unlike other occasions, however, I was there to take part in their album launch.
On May 3rd, at Bar Le Ritz PDB, I attended the release of Sara-Danielle’s debut album Live In My Dreams (stream it here). In support were Marianne Poirier and Thanya Iyer, whose contrasting sounds were the ideal introduction to the diverse influences that make up Sara-Danielle’s spin on “Indie Soul.”
The night began with Marianne Poirier’s introspective Folk and her soothing melodies tinged by a hint of sadness. With a sound reminiscent of a more stripped-down Feist, the artist’s melancholic voice was masterfully showcased at the center of each track. From songs featuring a minimalist kick-drum beat to more traditionally Folksy offerings (complete with a violin bow for the guitarist), Marianne Poirier was able to craft an atmosphere that was as serene in its familiarity as it was captivating in its rawness.
Thanya Iyer’s more experimental performance was a marked shift away from Poirier’s downtempo melodies. Backed by a live band, Iyer – on vocals and the keyboard – instantly commanded the crowd’s attention with a sound so eclectic and textured that one can’t help but liken it to an electronic take on Free Jazz. The smoothness of the transitions from track to track made the performance seem like an intimate jam session between musicians who’ve known each other for ages. As the performance progressed, you couldn’t help but be pulled into their fantastic universe built around many disparate sound elements coalescing into a harmonious whole.
As the main act, Sara-Danielle’s performance truly was quite the celebration – and for good reason! Backed by a live band and a four-piece vocal support, the singer pulled out all the stops in order to properly bring her debut album to life. As the title Live In My Dreams implies, there is an imaginative and dream-like quality to her craft – almost like each lyric puts to paper the images from her subconscious. During the show, this element was preserved through the on-stage projection of hand-drawn sketches that whimsically brought the artist’s words – and dreams – to life.
Armed with her four-piece vocal backing, Sara-Danielle articulated the delicate nature of the album’s theme in the most ethereal of ways. The melodies were light and fluttering, yet grounded in reality through nuances in harmony and tempo. With a sound evocative of the indie experimentalism of Dirty Projectors mixed with the jazz-infused Electro-Soul of Montreal’s own Krystale, Sara-Danielle was able to showcase the eclectic nature of her craft with songs like “Runaway” that got the crowd moving and pieces like “Killing Me” that got us swaying to her crooning.
Radiating in a packed house filled with friends and family, it was such a pleasure to see someone performing so confidently and comfortably in their element. In order to live in one’s own dream, one has to first bring it to life, and that is exactly what Sara-Danielle did with her performance.