Taken by Trees Branch Out in Montreal
Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman's project gets intimate, covers Guns N' Roses.
The growing popularity of artists like Feist and Iron & Wine — what some are calling a folk revival movement — has carried two inexorable promises: first, that aspiring independent artists with country, bluegrass, or folk sensibilities would once again claim their fair share of the music business, and second, that anyone who writes songs and owns a four-track can cut a record and start touring. Last night, a cozy Montreal audience glimpsed both ends of the spectrum.
Massachusetts singer-songwriter Casey Dienel — touring her new project, White Hinterland — marred what may have been an engrossing, moving, intimate solo piano performance with pointless sampling, tiresome ukulele interludes, and a competent but extraneous drummer.
What Dienel lacked, Taken by Trees delivered in fine form. The fledgling project of Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman played a collection of smooth serenades to a small but attentive audience. “You’re not that many,” Bergsman noted mid-set, “but you are important.” The singer’s interaction, much like the audience itself, was sparse, her focus instead on creating a palpable atmosphere of tranquility, bathed in sweet vocal harmonies and consummate musicianship. There were few standout tunes, save for the captivatingly minimalist “Tell Me” (from the group’s debut Open Field) and an energetic cover of Guns N’ Roses’ classic “Sweet Child of Mine,” the only song to build any significant momentum. Clocking in at just under an hour, Taken by Trees’ set mirrored their ballads: short and sweet. BEN LEMIEUX / PHOTOS BY RICHMOND LAM