There was some fine singing going on The Vogue last night. Jill Barber and Royal Wood showed off the softer side of poppy jazz, nourishing our souls while crooning about love, lost, and everything in between.
Jill Barber sounds much like she does on record – which isn’t a slight, because she sounds great on record. I wish she had taken more vocal risks, given her fans something more than just the straight and narrow. What was immediately apparent, however, was the talent of the band behind her. I appreciated the specialized introduction Jill gave to each musician, personal quirks that showed how much she knew them.
I would have also liked to see more variety in the solos – Les Cooper had some amazing moments on a variety of stringed instruments, but I found myself wanting to see what Drew Jurecka could really do on the violin, or the secret behind the ever-smiling cellist, Steve Zsirai.
All in all, a solid ‘hometown’ performance, and Jill has personality and wit in spades.
Royal Wood (yes that’s his true name, he saved us all asking the question) falls within the traditional line of smooth crooners, and was in good company opening for Jill Barber. Two things set him apart from the rest. The first, his self-effacing charm, easily winning over the audience between songs and technical fails. The second, the strength of his voice. Wood can sing all right, and his pitch remained sure and true throughout the night.
That powerful voice did lead to some balance issues, especially when Wood switched over to the piano. I’d like to see Wood take a break from the instruments and focus on creating a ‘phenomenal’ vocal performance. Most of his accompaniment, it seemed, relied heavily upon keeping rhythm – something any talented musician can do and improvise better.
Wood has enough chops and pizzaz to pull off being an incredible frontman. I’m just not sure if his talents are equally spread across all of the instruments strewn across the stage.
Vancity Buzz is a proud media partner of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival