Talia Schlanger had her single release party at the Rivoli and Toronto wanted to hear it. I walked in and the place was packed. People seemed very excited to see this show. Within the first few moments I was beginning to understand. Talia walked on and began with her opening song-“So Small”. It had a country feel to it, and would sound perfect at a Blue Rodeo Concert. The song was earthy and her guitar was chunky. Normally I don’t notice these things, but seeing her guitar against her size, she must have some pretty strong arms rocking away at this instrument. It was apparent, Talia owned the audience from the very first song.
It became apparent to me that Talia had something special brewing. Her songs had a sort of quirkiness to them, but not to strange. She also has a very inclusive power. She got the audience to move forward to the stage to keep everything together. Not many bands have that quality. In fact after that moment I felt as if I were in a large living room with a whole lot of friends and family. It had a tight knit community feel to it. And, Yes I found out that family members did come out to support her.
Her third song was a Neil Young classic, “Don’t let it bring you down”. I think Neil would have been charmed by this rendition. Talia’s storytelling strength is pretty darn strong. She told us about her family history from WWII and how her family came over by ship and the personal trauma and fear they had leaving their country. It was dedicated to her Aunt. You could feel the warmth of the room as she described this journey in her lyrics.
Talia is a very lucky young woman because she has an unbelievable band surrounding her. Each player held their talent high and elevated the music to a personal depth of emotion. The Drummer, Davide DiRenzo, held the entire sound together with dynamic flair and vigour and happiness. I think he smiled the entire show. The Bass player, Brian Kobayakwa, really caught my ear. Normally they would hold the rhythm together, whereas this guy put on such an emotional performance on his upright Bass, you knew exactly the part he was conveying in the song. Now the Guitar player, Kevin Briet, whom I have witnessed with other players became the Rock God of the stage. This guy plays with absolute conviction and intent. If I had to compare him to anyone else, I would say he has a similar output to that of, Adrian Belew( Frank Zappa, King Crimsom). By the end of the show Talia and Kevin seemed to be in perfect sync. But I must tell you more.
Talia is not from Canada; she left her job in the USA and moved up to Canada to pursue her passion. I guess leaving the states is a moment where Canadians can cheer loudly. I can honestly say, Welcome to Canada, Talia.
This woman can take the extinction of a tree frog and turn it into a meaningful song. It works for me, because I have a strong passion for animals. Well the moment arrived and she played her new single-“Attention”. It was simpler than the other full sounding song, but this easy pop song has a lot of charm to it.
I normally wouldn’t include this paragraph, but it was how Talia said it that I had to relay it by memory. She talked about the soullessness of technology and about Covid,(Don’t we all),but it was how she phrased her last sentence that got to me. The way technology is growing in this existence, it is now becoming an act of protest of being all together in a room. This one hit home, because I see that happening all around and for me not to socialize would crush me over time. I love being out amongst like minded people. When she came back on for her encore, she played Huey Lewis’s “Power of Love”. It was quite the energetic ending with her and Kevin jumping around like two kids on a playground. It was electric and fun and open.
P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with her Grandfather, who looked like the happiest person in the room. You didn’t need to ask him how he felt, he radiated pride and the rest of the room radiated joy.
Here are some images of Talia: