It seems like everyone chose the first of the month to plan their shows. And while there was a number of events to choose from that night, the one I was looking forward to was the Vancouver album release show for Steph Macpherson's new album, Stones.
In the three years since her last album was out, Steph ran a successful IndieGoGo campaign to help her travel down to Nashville, TN to make her new album with Juno-winner Steve Dawson. And while the results of that journey will be released at the end of next week (Oct 9), she kicked off her album release tour in Vancouver.
The first Steph of the night was Stephanie Chatman. I have seen her performing with about 74% of all Vancouver bands, backing them on violin, occasionally a part of the Four on the Floor String Quartet, but this time she was showcasing her own solo material. On stage alone with just an acoustic guitar and her soft, lovely voice, she started off with "Norway", from her EP Compass Rose. Aside from her own songs, she did a cover of Father John Misty's "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)", and was joined by her "special friend" Andrew Phelan from The River & The Road for a nice duet.
She ended the set with a song she introduced as a "mellow song", though most of the set had a similar mellow, sit-down-and-drink-some-whiskey vibe.
The next act was Macpherson's touring partner, Noah Edwards. He had a fun, catchy 90's-tinged pop-rock, with a good energy.
A few songs stuck out, one called "Matchstick" that was a bit darker than the rest of the set, and a newer song he played acoustically, letting his band take a break, called "Shoreline". He also pulled out a cover song, choosing to go a little more classic with "Dancing in the Dark".
Jasper Sloan Yip was up next, packing the stage with his band, which, yes, included Stephanie Chatman as part of this three-piece string section, as well as backing vocals. The set mostly focused on his latest album Foxtrot, and Jasper's great ability to seamlessly flow from bouncy, upbeat songs like and "Show Your Teeth" to the more soft-spoken and intimate songs like "Love, and All its Opposites". Sometimes even shifting in the same song, as with "It Must be True".
He brought the set to a close with the pairing of the soft, piano-and-strings driven "Indian Summer" quickly building into a chaotic ending which segued perfectly into the explosive "Horseshoes", Jasper shredding on his guitar.
And finally, to celebrate her new album, was Steph Macpherson. She started the set off with track one from Stones, "Lie Beside You", pouring her heart out with the lyrics "I want to lie beside you, not to you", and ran through most of the album; such as the biting "Everything You Don't Do" and beautiful harmonies with guitar player Christian Down on "Cerulean Blue". Other highlights included the title track "Stones", and one of my favourites of the new album, the hard-hitting single "You Got Mean".
I always enjoy a well-put-together set, and Steph's grew in intensity as it went on, culminating in a pair from her last album Bells & Whistles, "Silver Platter" and "The Verdict" as Steph's strong voice sailed over top of her driving guitar, closing out the night without bothering with the faux-encore.
Since I first saw her in the 2010 Peak Performance Project, I have seen Steph Macpherson play a few times, and this was the strongest yet. I really enjoyed the set, and hopefully Steph will be back soon on a night that is much less busy.
Lie Beside You, Home, Everything You Don't Do, Spark, Cerulean Blue, Wood & Nails, Stones, You Got Mean, Silver Platter, The Verdict.