May 11, 2010

Gabrielle Louise’s Homecoming Show at Dazzle

(Reposted from Colorado Music Buzz, May Issue)

It was easy to develop preconceived notions about Gabrielle Louise. Based solely on the information I had received prior to attending her show (as well as some knowledge about the swanky venue in which she was performing), I assumed she would be a poised Diana Krall-esque Jazz singer, with upbeat songs that bordered on being chaotic. However, I was in for a surprise.

Dazzle, itself, turned out to be a bit of a culture shock to me. As the waitress led us to a table, I glanced around and noticed the presence of many neckties, buttoned-down shirts, and dresses. Being seated for a concert was strange enough for me, but was there actually a dress code in effect, too? I whispered to my friend, “It’s okay: I’m wearing my best thrift-store jacket.” Whew, that was a close one!

We sat down at a candlelit, white linen-covered table and ordered drinks. For all its showiness, though, Dazzle has the credibility to back up such a posh atmosphere. Being one of the premiere clubs in the city, it has become renowned for its share of visits from bona fide Jazz artists, both locally and nationally known.

The lights dimmed as Gabrielle Louise climbed onto the stage. While her flowing, red evening gown matched the swanky décor of Dazzle – as though she and the drapes in the background coordinated outfits prior to the show – her acoustic guitar stood in stark contrast. (In fact, the whole evening turned out to be a lesson in elegance meeting simplicity.) With a humble introduction, the self-proclaimed folksinger began her two-part set of slow, heartfelt music. Her voice was deep and sultry like many classic Jazz vocalists, yet her minimal guitar accompaniment and earnest lyrics kept the songs squarely in the Folk genre. In between each song, Louise gave a background story while tuning her guitar, giving off of a vibe that was more personable than performer – which I can appreciate.

However, throughout her set, I kept thinking of how she seemed to be holding back. Her voice sounded capable of much more powerful and more complicated songs. Even her quiet guitar plucking seemed timid, whereas she could have thrived with a full instrumental accompaniment or even just faster, jazzier beats. At times, she seemed to tiptoe that line, such as while singing classic tango songs in Spanish, including one by the legendary Carlos Gardel. Her emotion was raw, her voice wavered perfectly, and her guitar playing picked up speed. It was during these moments that her true talent shone through brilliantly.

Nevertheless, her abilities are undeniable and unflappable. Given the confidence to really belt it out, both vocally and instrumentally, this intriguing young singer will only get better and better.

(And for a side note, check out Kortney's review of this night at Simple Denver Life. She has the dirt you won't find in the Buzz.)

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