by Sam Cox, Digital Music Editor
A few songs into their set, Charlotte Cornfield and her band reminisce about when they first met. She tells the audience she still feels bad for accusing her now-drummer of stealing her iPod at a party. “It was 18 years ago” he laughs, before Cornfield snaps back not to give away how old they are. As much as she might hate to admit it, it's evident that her and her band have been playing together for years. Everything feels effortless, innate, intimate.
This effortlessness suits Cornfield’s songs perfectly. They’re the kind of realist, story-telling compositions, mesmerisingly installed with a sense of time and of place, that North America seem to specialise in; Cornfield is a Toronto native, learning her craft in its famously rich DIY scene, and her latest record, Highs in the Minuses, is a joke at the expense of the city’s weather. Her voice has the same country lilt as Pinegrove’s Evan Stephens Hall and her songs are imbued with the same sense of nostalgia that Hall’s band specialise in.
“He tasted like an ashtray and had very little grace. And I was still so hung up on you. Would have done anything you wanted me to.” the ever-self-aware Cornfield sings on the breathtakingly vivid 21, lamenting on lost love and the disappointing hook-ups that young-adulthood present in their aftermath. Its melodic hook, like all her songs, is instantaneous and affecting. The best moment of the set, however, comes when they play Partner in Crime, both the album’s and this evening’s most joyous moment. “I walked home stumbling, not even drunk or anything, smiling my head off, smiling my eyes out” she speaks, rather than sings, her band metronomically locked into a groove, singing tasteful harmonies over the song’s ecstatic chorus.
To call Cornfield’s music simple would be doing her a disservice - there is nuance in her writing that comes across live, in particular – but there is a simplicity to her and her band’s performance that feels cleansing. Live music comes in all shapes and sizes; it challenges, it emotes, it shocks, it angers. That is what makes gig-going so exciting. But sometimes, gigs are a chance to simply tell stories. Storytelling is a timeless art, and it’s one which Charlotte Cornfield has perfected.
Featured Image: Sam Cox
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