Live Review: Emma Russack, Jordan Ireland

3 October 2017 | 9:43 am | Matt MacMaster

"It built into something transcendent, and had us swallowing our tongues it was so good."

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Despite the persistent hum of feedback from some anonymous source, Emma Russack's show was a tiny triumph.

Jordan Ireland (The Middle East) was an invaluable addition, his Tom Waits all-cleaned-up vocals and roadhouse dream-blues licks floating around the minuscule stage like cigarette smoke.

Emma Russack's rapier wit cut through her dreamy brooding folk-pop like a hot knife, and her wobbly banter broke down the artificial barriers slyly set-up before every gig in punter's mind. What's great about Russack (among many other things) is that she leans into the thematics of her songs, really milking the role of storyteller. Songs like Everybody Cares brought us right into the parties she sings about, and the sleepy bossa nova shuffle of Permanent Vacation gave us an itch from phantom sunburn.

Russack is a candid individual, to put it lightly. Her openness worked like gangbusters in the intimate den of Golden Age, and perhaps would've been lost in a larger room. To be that close to a performer pulling the faces Russack was pulling was a treat. She bends her face around a note or a phrase, and she clearly gets lost in, and fully commits to, what she's giving us.

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For a long while things were coasting along, performer and audience holding hands enjoying the flow. Then she dropped Free Things, a devastating confessional about her love/hate/hate relationship with relationships. It built into something transcendent, and had us swallowing our tongues it was so good.

Emma Russack is just great. We're getting tired of telling you, so you're just going to have to go find out for yourself.