East Coast folk at Maxwell’s Music

(Photo by Kate Turner)

Polaris Prize nominee Rose Cousins wrapped up her latest tour with an intimate show at Maxwell’s Music House.

The crowd, comprised of Cousins’ close friends and family, community members and students, sat rapt with attention for almost two hours as Cousins’ music washed over them.

Originally from PEI, Cousins moved to Halifax to pursue a career in music, and has already achieved acclaim in both Canada and the United States.

Nominated for this year’s Polaris Prize, along with Canadian superstars Drake, Feist (this year’s winner) and Leonard Cohen, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see Cousins play at Maxwell’s, a rare occurrence considering she played at the famous Glenn Gould Studio a mere night before.

As I walked into Maxwell’s, opener Jennah Barry was just taking the stage. Also from the East Coast, Barry’s haunting voice filled the space, catching everyone off guard as she commanded the stage.

An up-and-comer in the Canadian music scene, Barry joined the tour after one of her managers sent her album, Young Men, to Cousins.         Barry was welcomed with open arms, and exclaimed how appreciative she was of Cousins’ help in getting her established.

The two musicians had incredible chemistry on stage, with their voices (and personalities) blending beautifully when joining together for various duets.

Following this tour, Barry is heading back to the Maritimes for Nova Scotia Music Week, after which she plans on recording another album. If Sunday night was any indication, Barry is definitely an artist to look out for now and in the future.

Following a ten-minute break, headliner Cousins began to play. Completely down-to-earth, Cousins engaged the crowd cracking sarcastic jokes that had the audience in hysterics.

Beyond this comfortable rapport, Cousins captured her audience in the complexity of her music and lyrics.

Providing the background behind many of pieces, the crowd felt as if they knew a little bit more about Cousins by the end of the show.

Standout pieces included “The Shell”, in which the audience (quite beautifully) sang back up as Cousins took what she described as a “Beyonce moment,” or, an impressive, improvised vocal riff.

“Celebrate”, one of Cousins’s only “happy” songs changed the pace of the evening and garnered a chuckle when she changed the lyrics to make them kid-friendly. “Celebrate” would not have sounded out of place at a children’s birthday party.

“The Darkness”, one of the heaviest songs of the night was an angst-ridden break-up anthem and, sitting down at the piano, Cousins’ serenaded the crowd with “One Way” which was featured in a recent episode of the Canadian hit TV show Rookie Blue.

The evening’s highlight came when Barry joined Cousins on stage to close the show. While many of Cousins’ songs were down-tempo, she kept the energy up with her awesome sense of humour and easy-going stage presence.

Appreciative of the crowd’s support, Cousins put on an excellent concert, showing why she’s quickly rising to the top of the Canadian music scene.

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