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Emily Haines - Le National, Mon. Sep. 18

Posted by Jer / September 21, 2006


After silencing an already quiet crowd with the first four songs of her set, Emily Haines took a sip from her tall can of Guinness and turned towards the audience.

"I wish there was some way I could make everyone who came to a Soft Skeleton show drink Guinness ... I mean, if you're drinking a vodka soda, that's cool, I just don't think you'll totally get what we're doing here."

In the Guinness world, good things come to those who wait and patience is a virtue. And on her first "solo" effort, Haines has certainly mastered the slow pour.

The songs are unhurried, brooding affairs which rarely raise the heartbeat. Her quirky lyrics ("the maid needs a maid") and rambling melodies are the obvious focus but songs like "Our Hell" and "Crowd Surf off a Cliff" show how percussive an electric keyboard can be. eh_piano.jpg

The stage show was sedate, in a good way. Luckily for the crowd, Le National is a sit down venue; standing would have seemed at odds with such a low-light, low-volume and low-key event. Haines was joined by a bassist (Paul ?), a drummer (Scott Minor ?) and a laptop (Mac), which despite crashing before the third song, restarted to contribute some beautiful backing guitar lines to "Detective's Daughter". I should also mention the lighting guy in charge of synching edited loops of trippy Guy Maddin films to each song which were projected on a screen over the stage. There. Consider him mentioned.

Haines, who doesn't seem busy enough as sometimes-member of supergroup Broken Social Scene and frontwoman for Metric, has great stage presence despite being glued to her piano for the whole show. My biggest complaint was that the songs toward the end of the set all bled into one another and I'm not sure how much a Slow Skeleton track differs from a slower Metric song (say, "Calculation").

I've resisted trying to compare the show to a Metric gig though. While there are obvious overlaps in her songwriting and melody decisions, it wouldn't be right to compare the two because they are just different experiences. Like Guinness and vodka soda.

The album, Knives Don't Have Your Back, from Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton is available through Last Gang Records



Hannah / September 22, 2006 at 12:47 pm
Guinness from a can? Doesn't the widget get in the way?
Celestine / February 5, 2015 at 12:06 am
Thanks so much for the review Emma. I rllaey do appreciate you taking the time to post such a thorough review. I have to tell you that I have no idea about vampires or paranormal whatsoever. My normal genre is sci-fi farce or historical fiction, but this novella came about because of a crazy 350 word satirical blog post I wrote some time back about Reggie and Agatha. It received so many comments and positive feedback, I thought, well, why not?So to receive a totally independent review from you, and so complimentary, has rllaey made my day.Thanks again.
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