Burdock Music Hall, Sunday March 12th, 2017
by Nicholas Tristan, Features Editor
Since its opening in 2015, Bloordale’s Burdock has quickly earned a reputation for being one of west Toronto’s hippest live music venues. In its narrow, dimly-lit music hall, you can catch everything from jazz to live comedy to experimental noise-rock.
Folk, however, has always been one of Burdock’s specialties, with the h`fortless charm. Her songs are driven by her strong voice -- the melodies unspool effortlessly, her radiant alto clear and precise across registers. The songs show remarkable maturity, wit, and emotional strength, and her backing band contributed to the show’s dynamic energy.
A stand out in Claire Hunter’s repertoire is the breezy, low-key charmer “California”. The song evokes wishful thinking and youthful dreams, and weaves a melancholy element into its west coast, yacht rock sound. It’s not hard to imagine yourself listening to the song while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in a cherry red convertible, though the song’s themes of loss and the passage of time lend themselves better to the fantasy than to the reality.
Lindsay Foote is another revelation; her clear, open voice brings to mind bluegrass and folk legend Allison Krauss (Foote rises to the comparison too, even covering one of Krauss’ songs during the night). With a larger band consisting of two guitars, banjo, upright bass, violin, as well as a dedicated backup singer, Foote’s music is rich and full, and it’s all the more satisfying when she pares the larger group down to essential elements for certain pieces.
As the night goes on, Foote delivers charmingly awkward banter, mining her own discomfort talking in front of an audience with good timing and precision. Even in the long, narrow hall, Burdock is a tremendous venue for feeling a connection with the performers.
Foote writes music that ventures outside traditional harmonic structures, echoing some of Nashville’s most confident, adventurous songwriters. Her songs feature compelling, well-crafted acoustic arrangements that provide a rich sonic background for Foote’s warm vocals to float above.
Foote and Hunter both exemplify the strengths of Toronto’s neo-folk community: a deference to roots styles that have come before them, a welcome addition of relevance and modernity, and songs that manage to be emotionally moving without being morose. Both artists perform regularly in the Toronto scene, and should be heard live if the chance presents itself. Claire Hunter’s 2016 EP Something Safe is available on ITunes and Spotify, while Lindsay Foote’s EP Going Gone is currently awaiting release.
Final Rating: ****/****