Capsule Review: EMMA-LEE @ The Drake Underground (CMW 2012 – Day 3)
I ended up at The Drake Underground almost by accident on Friday night. My intention was originally to go there to see Montreal folky soft-rockers HALF-MOON RUN, but when I mentioned this to a friend, she immediately insisted that I arrive early to catch Toronto singer/songwriter EMMA-LEE. She’s someone I trust on the music recommendation front, so I gladly complied and made my way over for EMMA-LEE’s 9PM set.
I can probably sum up this review in one word; Wow.
EMMA-LEE is a soft country artist (her guitarist even had a paisley guitar), which is usually not my genre. However, within the first 30 seconds of her set I was hooked, as was the audience. She has primarily mid-tempo simple country rock songs with familiar themes of love and loss, but they are done extremely well.
I’m not normally wooed by a pretty voice alone, but I found myself mesmerized by EMMA-LEE’s beautiful voice; the crowd was similarly enthralled. And that’s not to say that’s all she had going for her, because her backing band was absolutely superb. It wasn’t complicated stuff, but they played exactly what they needed to play, and well.
EMMA-LEE’s voice was further filled out by great harmonies from her female keyboardist, and the excellent sound quality that The Drake is known for rounded it off. Her onstage banter was also very genuine and endearing – this set was very close to perfection for her style.
This is one of my favourite things about CMW and similar festivals; you can walk into a venue with no prior knowledge of an act and be blown away. EMMA-LEE will intrigue you and have you begging for more, and if you’re looking for a great show to take a date to, look no further!