Lakes of Canada @ Il Motore: The B.U. Review
Last Saturday night, Il Motore became a hotspot of great indie music as Lakes of Canada hosted their long-awaited album launch, with special guests Nick Vallée and Sarah Jane Scouten. Vallée kicked off the soirée, warming the crowd up with some smooth, soft tunes. Usually seen performing with his band Folly and the Hunter, Vallée went solo that night, singing his heart out with just his guitar to accompany him, and his set was nothing short of charming. This guy’s got a great voice and plays beautiful melodies you can’t help but nod along to. A bunch of us sat on the floor to watch him, and as we looked up at him, as cross-legged and attentive as children being told a story, clutching our beers and glasses of wine like bottles of milk, Vallée’s sweet sounds cradled us into a carefree, mellow mood that carried over into the next act.
Sarah Jane Scouten took the stage next, and from the opening notes of her first song, had me enthralled. She’s got a flawless voice with just the right amount of twang and she knows just how to use it. Her songs are soulful and have an undeniable country flair that’s only enhanced by her impressive band, a fiddle, a double bass and a mandolin. Together, they create moments of unspeakable tenderness. The music just envelops you. Scouten’s lyrics are beautiful and clever, infused with all the richness of her past experiences and travels across Canada. My favourite line of hers, which I rushed to write down as soon as she uttered it, has to be, “If I can’t be a great musician, I’ll just get one to sleep with me.” It’s a quote I can definitely relate to, even if I don’t really see how it applies to Scouten, so clearly a great musician herself. There’s something to be said, too, for her self-assurance onstage: as she stands there looking gorgeous in a sweet white dress, she looks out calmly with half-lidded eyes and makes it seem like she’s singing just for you.
Headliners Lakes of Canada started to set up, and somehow the crowd magically multiplied. Suddenly the venue was full to the brim. The band started off with an eerie melody that quieted the packed room instantly. Throughout the night, Lakes of Canada regaled the crowd with their trademark harmonies, a fun array of instruments (cello, ukulele, bongo drum, egg shaker…) and charming banter. I find a lot of Lakes of Canada’s songs repetitive, their lyrics less than stellar; but I have to say, they certainly know how to put on a good show. These guys had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. They brought members of the previous acts onstage with them for gang vocals, a classy move, and frontman and lead singer Jake Smith dedicated the first song to his mom. Most importantly, they ended the night on a truly powerful note, a brand-new, never-before-heard tune called “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a sneak-peak at a project they’ve started working on of songs based entirely on Canadian literature. As the band evolves and changes (they revealed that night that keyboard player Chris will be replaced by a girl, unheard of in the band’s history), I’m excited to see what they’ll come up with next.
P.S.: Lakes of Canada’s “Toll the Bell” is now available on Bandcamp, simply click here to check it out.