CMW 2014 Friday: Robyn Dell’Unto, Tara Holloway

By Aaron Binder
Photos by Erin Burrell

Part of festival appeal is the really cool events and shows that happen in unexpected places and Friday night’s show in the Vault at One King West may have been the first time a bunch of songwriters played a century old bank vault.

It makes sense though, beautifully deadened acoustics combined with mellow mood lighting and wonderful $10 drinks kept the monocled crowd as interested as the mono-clad black t-shirt wearers. Songs From the Vault was started by Northwood Records and is a great showcase of Canada’s guitar-slinging ladies and gentlemen.

Robyn Dell’Unto

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Robyn is a great example of how growing up in a big Italian turns even the most mild seeming people into stand-up comedians. Robyn and her sister (Sarah I want to say) could have left their guitars unplugged and in their case and still have a great set, their reasonably good tunes were icing between heavenly bites of comedy layer-cake.

Dell’Unto’s songs are thematically disjointed but this only adds depth to the content ranging from ex-boyfriends to that rich bitch in high school. The problem with slinging only a guitar and voice is that it limits the range songs can exhibit. With a full band there is no doubt Dell’Unto would be a great maestro but solo it’s more difficult to translate her music into a listenable full set. Where she does excel above many peers is in her comedy, it’s worth watching her live just to hear the inter-song banter, easily some of the best out there today.

Tara Holloway

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Tara Holloway is an awkward lady with a brilliant smile and bashful stage mannerisms, her attitude creates a level of intimacy, every song feels like a private show between just the two of you. Don’t think for one second she doesn’t command a stage though, even in the mundane background of a bank vault she shines and in this instance had to step back from the microphone during many of her songs, her voice is massive.

She sings with passion unseen in most, words flow across quivering rended lips and the thoughts in her head come clear through more than the music. Her website claims “Some artists punch the clock. For others, like Tara Holloway, the membrane between performance and life is thinner, if it’s there at all.” and her live personality, quirky, awkward and brilliant confirm this sentiment.

While she works a line about leaving on the Greyhound into one song, a Canadian singer/songwriters rite of passage, she plays a guitar built from the Grand Trunk Railroad and it becomes an appropriately timed memory. The men and women that built that railroad across this great country in the 1800’s would be proud knowing someone like Tara carries on their legacy playing a guitar in an old bank vault with all the passion she knows.

-Aaron

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