Evening Hymns @ Railway Club -- 08/01/13

Sometimes you build up shows in your head to almost unreasonable expectations. That was kind of the case for me and Evening Hymns. One of my absolute favourite albums of last year was Spectral Dusk -- an album that Jonas Bonnetta wrote to cope with the death of his father, a hauntingly beautiful and powerful album that is full of emotion -- and while I missed the show back in the fall, I had heard nothing but good things about their live show. So when I heard they were coming back for an early show at the Railway Club, I knew I couldn't miss it, but was also sort of worried I had overhyped it.
Turns out I was wrong to be worried.

First up, though, was Vancouver's own The Abramson Singers. Their mellow, folky sound was driven by Leah Abramson's lovely voice. A couple songs stood out, including "Marguerite" and "Factory" -- the latter about the chicken factory on Main St in Vancouver -- but a lot of the songs in the set had the same tempo to them; a collection of slower, sad songs. Nothing was bad, but it would have been nice to have some variance in the set.
Leah also had a good stage presence, joking between songs telling awkward-road-stories and introducing songs.

It wasn't long after that before Evening Hymns took the stage with their dark folk rock sound. Joining Jonas was Sylvie Smith (bass, backup vocals), Jon Hynes (drums), and Shaun Brodie (guitar, trumpet, accordion). They started with a slow yet intense build up to "Family Tree", off Spectral Dusk, the song adding some weight and emotion to the set right off the bat.
From there they played a mix of old and new; "Mtn. Song", which had a little bit of Ronnette's "Be My Baby" slipped into the intro; and they including a couple brand new songs, a more rocking number called "Evil Forces" stood out.
Half way through the set he introduced "You and Jake" by telling a bit of the story behind Spectral Dusk, and specifically the meaning of the song, about the relationship between his father and Jake, his brother. The soft and gorgeous song was so full of raw emotion that (most of) the bar was silent, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few tears were shed.
Jonas chatted with the crowd between songs, his casual and effortless demeanour gave the show a comfortable feel as he introduced each song. He gave the impression that even in the largest of venues, he would be able to make the show feel small and intimate, like he was just telling stories and playing around a campfire.
The all-too-short set ended with "Cabin in the Burn", drawing to a nice finale, as all my worries about expecting "too much" melted away. It was a gorgeous and powerful set, and I can only hope Jonas is back with Evening Hymns before too long with a much longer set. 

Family Tree, Dead Deer, Evil Forces, You and Jake, You Will Walk Again and Again, Mtn. Song, Cabin in the Burn.