Jody Glenham, Adaline, and Laura Smith at The Media ClubPhotos by Alex Ramon
There are many things in this world that make me happy. Puppies (they’re just so cute and adorable! Except of course when they poop on the carpet), beer (especially on a hot summer day, or after work, or during a hockey game, or… well anytime actually), and music (duh!). If you combine all of that together, you get a perfect night of puppies playing hockey while drinking beer and listening to music. I know that doesn’t make sense, and it’s not really supposed to because even in a perfect world puppies would never play hockey. It’s not possible. Since we don’t live in a perfect world, I would settle for having a beer and watching a great local show, filled with great local talent. That’s just what happened when I set up shop at The Media Club to watch Laura Smith debut her new album, Sea of Stars, up on stage. I’ve heard her name constantly throughout town and I’ve always wanted to check her out, but I don’t really know why I never did. But I finally got that opportunity I so desired, and the show lived up to its hype.
Originally from the great down of “Winter”peg, Jody Glenham migrated over to the west to pursue her singing career, as well as a better life without snow. She released her debut album “Brave New World” in 2006 with the help of a producer by the name of James Murdoch. You might remember him from such reviews as “James Murdoch Live At The Backstage Lounge” and with a musical talent such as Murdoch behind the panel, you know that this album is something to admire. I’m not making this up, and I’ll let the facts speak for themselves. The album was charted at number 4 on CJSR’s Folk/Roots/Blues charts and was even featured on Jeff Goode’s program on CBC Radio One. Not only has she gotten radio airplay, but music journalists across the country have praised Jody’s work, including Vancouver’s art magazine “One Cool Word.” She’s also toured extensively throughout the prairies, as well as playing a showcase show for New Music West. With a great musical repertoire and touring experience under her belt, the sky’s the limit for this young aspiring musician.
Jody opened up for the lovely Laura Smith and she did a fantastic job warming up the crowd. I don’t know what it is about a girl and a keyboard, but when you put those two together, I can’t help but get that tingly sensation in my stomach (just to clarify it’s the good tingly, not the puking tingly). Normally she plays by her lonesome, but she’s trying something new this time around. Playing with a semi-full band, consisting of a bass player and a drummer, both of which have awesome moustaches (I’m a little jealous actually), Jody played with a soulful, melodic presence. When she started to play “Pushing Gold,” I couldn’t help but admire her voice. She has that sexy raspy voice (Phoebe, anyone?) and then she switches gears into a more powerful and commanding form. I couldn’t help but compare Jody to the likes of Sarah Harmer and Sarah Slean, both of which are favourites of mine. She easily switches from a soft piano ballad to a dark depressing song and back again. My favourite song from her set has to be “Bittersweet Keepsake.” The weather outside was frightful, but her song was so delightful (you see what I did there! If not, then go listen to some Christmas music…), mainly because it was a more up-beat track that left me happy reminiscing of the summer weather. Overall, she left the crowd wanting more, and the only way to fulfill that Jody hunger is to go watch her again at another show.
Adaline, you might remember her from such reviews as “New Music West 2008 – Day One,” and a lot has happened since that fateful show at The Railway Club. All the way from Whitby, Ontario, Adaline studied music at a young age, and when she moved to Vancouver, she continued with her musical studies in her post-secondary education. It sure has paid off because this talented musician, with a voice sweeter than a bag full of sugar (brown or white, doesn’t really matter), is making a name for herself. She’s received rave reviews for her 2008 album Famous For Fire from the likes of The Vancouver Sun, The Province, and The Georgia Straight. With all this acclamation, there’s only one thing that can come out of this. Yes that’s right folks, having a song featured on a TV show. Her song “We’ve Got Something” will be highlighted on Global Television’s show “The Best Years” airing in 2009 across Canada and the US. Adaline so happily described her song possibly being played during a hand holding montage, where the two main characters look deeply in to each others eyes, and pucker up for the final kiss of their lives, or not.
On this momentous night at The Media Club, Adaline was all alone. She was metaphorically naked on stage without her band, but that didn’t seem to bother her one bit. With a keyboard and a microphone, she started the night off with the title track off her new album, “Famous For Fire,” where she displayed her thunderous and powerful voice. Everyone was quite and attentive, a little eerie actually, but then the silence was broken by the roaring applause, and also by a very inebriated woman at the front of the stage. She has an amazing sense of the stage, and her crowd interaction was utterly delightful, telling jokes and stories to entertain the crowd in between songs. Adaline provides the necessary emotion to draw in the crowd, and when she closes her eyes during a critical point in the song, there is no doubt that the audience closes their eyes with her. The raw power of her voice and of her entire set was refreshing, because you could tell she lives for these moments, where she’s up on stage singing to a crowd of lovely and receptive people. She just got back home from a tour with Vancouver’s own The Painted Birds, and Dom, the lead singer of this extraordinary band came up on stage and sang a few songs with Adaline. This was just a precursor to what I will witness the following night, where I went to The Anza Club to review The Painted Birds homecoming show. Dom and Adaline had amazing chemistry on stage, with harmonies and melodies that wowed the entire crowd. The highlight of the night for me was when she sang “Meaningless Meeting,” a song about meaningless intimacy, or in other words, one night stands. During the song, I told Alex, my photographer, that I just had an ear-gasm (Definition: something that provides pleasure in the ear drum region). The emotion she had on stage may or may not have made me tear up a bit, and the lyrics she sang were incredibly heartfelt that I really believed everyone word that came out of her mouth. When she sang “Chemical Spill” I had this nagging question on my mind. Why isn’t she super famous yet? Why is she still a server when she could take on the world? In my opinion (and all of yours too if I could control free will) she will do just that, and sooner, rather than later, she’s going to be a household name and you’ll be kicking yourself for not going to see her at an intimate show like The Media Club.
As I mentioned in the intro, I’ve heard Laura’s name being thrown around town for quite some time now. This got me wondering, what’s so special about her? Maybe it’s her charming personality. Maybe it’s her modest qualities. Maybe it’s her music. Well it’s all of that and more. She is an amazing vocalist, a tremendous keyboardist, and wonderful songwriter. For those of you who don’t know, she used to be the keyboardist for Said The Whale, another talented group of musicians that are turning heads in the Canadian music scene. Laura has finally struck out on her own, and a with a little help from Greg Bevis, drummer of my favourite local band Loose Change Trio, musical boy genius Andrew Braun, and the talented Jeff Riedlinger, she has created a masterpiece and a live show that’s both entertaining and memorable. It seems like a small circle of talented Vancouver musicians stick together, and I can honestly create a connecting web of musicians, in which case I will do another time. The night being Laura Smith’s CD Release party, I expected big things from this tiny girl with a big heart, and I sure wasn’t disappointed.
As soon as the band went on, the entire stage lit up. This isn’t a metaphor, because the stage actually lit up with some nice Christmas lights strung out on the ceiling. It was a great display, and was actually practical for Alex and his low light photos. With these lights in the background, the crowd slowly but surely got out off their seats and jammed the front of the stage to witness Laura’s distinct and unique voice. She started off the night with the title track off her new album, “Sea of Stars” and I can only describe it as being epic. It was up-beat, melodic, and dramatic with a perfect ending. At one point in the night, Laura whipped out a white accordion for her song “Break.” Who knew an accordion could be so cool? It actually made me want to go out and buy one, just for the sake of being cool. With accordion in hand, Laura’s set seemed like a display of musical instruments, especially when a flute player came up on stage and played a few songs to accompany Laura’s beautiful voice. She has an undeniably enormous stage presence, especially for a small little girl like herself. Her music is bigger than her body, and when she gets up on stage, you get a little shock because you normally don’t hear such a full-size voice coming from such a small-size body. The entire band played with such vigour and passion, which was a great accompaniment to the heartfelt lyrics Laura had created. I could honestly picture each song being played on the radio, and I expect that will happen one day. For her last two songs, a full horn section, comprised of students from Capilano College, came up on stage. There were so many layers to her song “Such A Long Way To Go” that it’s hard to describe it all in detail, but I was especially impressed by the horn outro that made the crowd jump to their feet. It was one of the many highlights of her set, and when all was said and done, she received a standing ovation which led to an encore. In a small bar like The Media Club, you don’t normally see many encores, but the crowd wanted more and that’s exactly what they got. Laura was incredibly grateful for the wonderful reception, and hopefully this kind of acclamation will propel her to create more beautiful songs.