There are many adjectives one could use to describe musical sensation Jill Barber. Gifted, classy, down-to-earth. But one that definitely stands out among many other descriptors is ‘timeless.’ Her music, her charm, and her eloquence are timeless. This Ontario-born, Halifax-trained, now Vancouver-based songstress is anything but ordinary.
She has the soul of a crooner, love in her heart, and many a story to tell. She proved this fact on Friday, November 18th as she and her outstanding band mates graced the stage of the exquisite Broadway Theatre.
She performed a generous selection of songs from her most recent project, the enticing Mischievous Moon, which was out in early April. The seductive single “Tell Me” was a sure hit. The songs “Wish Under My Pillow” and “Took Me By Surprise” so sweetly encapsulated the love she shares with her radio personality and author husband Grant Lawrence, whom she married in May of 2010. She also mixed in several tunes from her 2008′s Chances, including the title track and a grand rendition of her hit “Oh My My.” The performance of this particular song showcased the sparkling musicality of each band member as they each had a solo portion. Guitarist (and producer) Les Cooper, pianist and accordion player Robbie Grunwald, violinist, clarinet and saxophone player Drew Jurecka, percussionist Adam Warner, and bassist Steve Zsirai were as enchanting as their leading lady.
The singer and her five-piece band captivated the audience, not only with every note sung and played, but also with witty banter between songs. Her two-hour set whizzed by in what felt like a very entertaining few moments. It even included impromptu renditions of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Cheers theme songs. Any concert that randomly includes moments like these is a winner in my book.
Barber doesn’t just sing from the heart, she seems to belt out her signature contralto voice from the tip of her toes. She doesn’t only feel the music, she lives it. All of her albums since her 2004 debut Oh Heart have had a diverse mix of folk and jazz that’s hard to define. This performer cannot be pigeonholed, as her sound is always evolving, but also remains distinctively classic. Not unlike greats before her, and likely inspired by them, she stands out. The influence of cabaret torch singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, and Patsy Cline, and even contemporaries like Norah Jones is definite, but her sound is idiosyncratically her own.
She has even taken on the admirable feat of learning French, and performing in the language that has entranced her since singing a translated tune of hers a couple of years ago. “Tell Me” is also in French (entitled “Dis-moi”) on Mischievous Moon. She jovially sung a rendition of a French ditty called “Plus Bleu Que Tes Yeux” (More Blue than Your Eyes), which was beyond delightful to see and hear.
A song that had the captured the audience so much a pin drop could be heard was the acoustic beauty “Ashes to Ashes.” This track from Jill’s sophomore project For All Time is an impassioned dedication to her late grandmother which she performed alone on stage, just her and a guitar. There were undoubtedly some tears falling from the eyelashes of some (namely me…).
She has travelled extensively across Canada over the past year, and especially over the last couple of months. She’s making her way across the country, capturing hearts and making friends all over the place. Her music and radiant personality has the rare ability to reach listeners of many musical preferences.
The near-capacity event proved that she is firmly planted in the hearts of many Saskatonians. It was an evening to remember, and hopefully Saskatoon will be fortunate enough to host the lovely Jill Barber in the near future.
Green Eggs & Ham
Monday (Alternating), 6-8am
Edited by Craig Silliphant
CFCR Board Member