Jill Jambor hits the right notes

Barrie singer-songwriter a hit on stages near and far

Story and videos by Mitchell Wilson

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YICxSHAjleo Jill Jambor is one of Barrie’s hidden gems. In the two years since the release of her debut album in 2008 this gifted singer-songwriter has been performing both locally and otherwise at events such as the the Music on Main Festival in Alliston and the Barrie New Music Festival, bridging the gap between Barrie’s folk and indie music scenes.
The summer of 2010 has been a busy time for this young artist. In addition to recording a new four song EP entitled The Bad One, Jill has also been performing at shows throughout Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area. But the biggest news this summer by far was her performance at Summerfolk in Owen Sound.
Summerfolk is a prestigious festival founded by Tim and John Harrison in 1975. This year’s lineup includes artists from across Canada and the United States, as well as performers from as far away as Russia and Sweden.
Summerfolk also has the Young Discoveries program, which gives four young artists a chance to appear on the Summerfolk stage. This year the winners were Anne and David Beverly-Foster, Ben Turcott, Jackie Rose Brown & Carrie Davenport and, of course, Jill Jambor.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKotrxZJo04 It was primarily because of Jill’s appearance that I decided to make the trek to Owen Sound this Aug. 20, 21 and 22. Summerfolk is famous for its rainy weather (the website proclaims that it’s rained 20 years of the festival’s 30), and this year was no exception. While good weather greeted our arrival on Friday evening, the rest of the weekend was overcast and foggy with one torrential downpour on Saturday afternoon.
Still, it was well worth braving the weather to catch some quality music, from the folk-blues of South Carolina’s Jack Williams to the expressive harmonies and driving momentum of Sweden’s Baskery, who seem to exist at a crossroads of American roots music from old-time country to rockabilly. Of course, the primary reason I was present remained the same.
For those who have not seen Jill perform, it is a unique experience. Eschewing such things as simple charisma or overblown showmanship, the emphasis of the evening is placed entirely where it should be, and the only performance comes from music. When she is ‘on’ it’s a unique experience, and it’s likely one that will resonate with all who were present at the intimate ‘Over the Hill’ stage/tent on Friday evening. Here, beneath the golden glow of strings of bare light bulbs, Jill took the stage after a performance by Owen Sound’s First Rate People and completely turned the mood of the evening on its head. The crowd of onlookers, both young and old, sat with rapt attention as she deftly ran through a string of her own compositions, tearing down any barriers that may have existed between audience and performer.
Before leaving on Sunday I stopped by the general store to pick up Jill’s new EP. I’m a fan of her first album. Despite it being marred by some poor production choices, it’s a solid collection of minimalist, melancholy love songs, almost like a concept album of sorts. While the new EP may not feel as unified, it does show an artist branching out and exploring new ground sonically. The opener is a gentle waltz clocking in at just under two minutes and immediately displays a much more layered sound than was heard on the previous release. This continues through the next two tracks, the drumming of Noel Anderson adding an almost sinister undertone to ‘Ten Minute Love Letter,’ which could have felt like a retread of ground already covered were it not for these sonic experiments.
The album closes with ‘Boarding (Marjorie & the Roller Coaster),’ a beautiful ballad accompanied by only guitar and Alyssa Wright’s haunting cello.
Overall, it’s a very solid EP and leaves me eagerly awaiting the next full-length album. If you’d like more information on Jill’s music or the Summerfolk Festival, visit jilljambor.com or summerfolk.org.

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