A bit over a week ago, I saw Danielle Duval open for Royal Wood at the Rivoli. I had only listened to part of one song on her MySpace page from her debut album, Of the Valley, on my way out the door, just to get a feel for what to expect. That song, Ambulance, was an upbeat, new wave-influenced tune fueled by thunderous drums, poppy keyboards and jangly guitar.
So when the Montreal ex-pat, now living in Toronto, took the stage by herself armed with just an acoustic guitar, I was taken aback. In fact, I missed recording the first 15 or 20 seconds of her opening song, because I was trying to explain what genre of indie pop Danielle would be classified as to my venue neighbour, who had struck up a conversation with me, and I hadn’t started up my Edirol recorder in time.
I guess I looked the fool when it quickly became clear that Danielle had left the band at home; but one descriptor remained quite apt, even in the stripped down performance: the music was catchy. The melodies still came across exceedingly well, and gave greater focus to her vocal performance than a full band performance may have. It ended up being the best introduction to her music I could ask for.
Although Danielle moved to Toronto to pursue her music career some years ago, her music is still very Quebecois in nature. She has a look and sound that would have been right at home on MusiquePlus (Quebec-Canada’s MTV) back when they still showed music videos on music television. After the set, I turned to my new friend and we both nodded in agreement — it was an impressive performance, especially for a solo singer/songwriter act.
While doing some EQing of the recording in preparation for this blog entry, I also ended up doing some further background reading on Danielle, which brought me to a video she had posted on her website of her band eating at a diner.
Wait a second?! Isn’t that…?! Yes, that’s Mike Duffield, a high school peer of mine whom I befriended after falling in love with his band, The Postage Stamps, shortly after graduation. It is a small world, after all!
When I read on Twitter than Danielle would be performing with the full band on CBC’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi, I was excited to hear my old friend drum again, and see what he brings to Danielle’s music. I made sure to capture the CBC broadcast as well. Upon listening back, I was doubley surprised that on keyboards was Simeon Abbott — a multi-instrumentalist Mike had brought into The Postage Stamps during the writing and recording of the bands sophomore and final album, This Ugly Arrangement.
It’s not that it was altogether out of the ordinary. After all, after dissolving, the Postage Stamps played together in various formations in several different bands, including Hamilton Trading Co. and the Diableros, amongst their other projects. I guess I was just thrown off by the incredulousness of having two musicians whose work I was really into some years ago randomly show up as a part of the band of some lady who I saw open for another band I was sort of into. A very surreal experience that only helps solidify Danielle as a artist to keep on my radar.
Don’t be surprised to see more of her on the blog in the upcoming weeks/months, but for now, have a taste of both her solo set at The Rivoli and her full band performance on CBC radio.
. : : October 20th, 2011 : : .
01. Day Becomes Night [cut]
03. We Got It Made
05. You Can’t Come Any Closer
. : : October 28th, 2011 : : .
01. [dj introduction]
04. [dj banter]
06. [dj banter]
07. [dj banter]
08. You Can’t Come Any Closer
10. [dj outro]
Special thanks to Danielle Duval and her band, Mike Duffield, Simeon Abbot, Ian McDonnell and Aaron Comeau, as well as to everyone at both The Rivoli and CBC Studios, including host Jian Ghomeshi.