LIVE REPORT Café de Paris 7/28 FRI

Declan O’Donovan

Declan O’Donovan is a singer-songwriter from the Yukon, one of Western Canada’s wildest and most rugged provinces. His music is a contemporary version of the plaintive barroom ballads of that wide-open landscape, and also his regular presence in urban eastern Canada. The songs are underpinned by his punchy, emotive piano, which he leans and sways over as he signs. The backing band includes electric guitar (with a slide on some numbers), bass and drums, playing downbeat high plains rock n roll. Then O’Donovan’s voice cuts through the instruments like a saw through a board. The lyrics aren’t quite the high rock-n -roll poetry of a Tom Waites (though O’Donovan included a credible cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”), but they’re reaching towards that zone, and the emotions are certainly real enough.

“I remember the shoes
that she wore,
Like the hands of the devil
Were reachin’ through the floor

Memories make your mind numb
She gave me something to run away from”

O’Donovan played his better known songs, including “Down to the Bottom”, “Burn it Down” and “Hank”, as well as several off his latest album, Broken Sky. The songs are about small town life, bittersweet love in the modern country. They’re the type of thing for big open spaces where people still listen to songs through static on AM radio.

The saloon-like atmosphere at Cafe de Paris provided some perfect atmosphere for O’Donovan’s show. And right after he went off, pole dancers started up with some crowd-pleasing burlesque. From what I’ve heard about Western Canada, I doubt that’s the first time that’s happened after one of his shows.

 Photo by Sayaka Yuki  Text by Dave Frazier Posted on 2017.7.29 16:23