Local singer/songwriter Danielle Allard boarded the Barney Danson Stage last night and gave a compelling performance, showcasing songs from her latest album, Chameleon (2015). Like her album cover, Allard was once again given the reptilian treatment with bright colours of body paint, designed by artist May Mutter, which made her entrance onto the stage all the more striking. Onstage with Allard was a miniature statue of herself, in the same Chameleon colours, which became her “mini-me” mascot on a recent tour of Eastern Canada.
The lovely high timbres of Allard’s voice rang out as she opened with the quickly-tempoed “Goodbye,” backed by a full band of Sebastian Romanutti (piano), Dean Watson (bass), Jamie Holmes (drums), and Ed Lister (trumpet). The diverse instrumentation gave her material an amplified sound inside the wonderful acoustics of the Barney Danson Theatre. Allard shed her guitar for the minor ballad “Crown” which breathed an emotional texture as the song ebbed and flowed through intensities.
Allard spoke to the audience before each song as she took us on a journey through personal stories of plight and perseverance, beautifully wrapped in her very heart-felt compositions. Off came the 6-inch heels to strut barefoot for the very poignant “Shipwreck,” with lyrics that expressed a stagnant and uncertain time in her life. The tender sound of her voice travelled through this three-quarter timed piece that tugged on the heartstrings of the hushed audience.
Another that made a strong impact was a song “No Longer Silent, ” one she wrote for a non-profit organization, Voice Found, who are committed to preventing child sex abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. Allard divides her time as a recording artist, a Communication teacher at Algonquin College, as well as a television producer/host of Rogers Daytime, in order to support programs such as this and to take part in many community fundraising events.
I enjoyed the Latin flavours and upbeat tempo of “All Your Answers” which featured some nice horn work by Lister. Allard climbed beautifully into her falsetto. “Run” had a fun, ’30s vaudevillian feel to it, further emphasized by Lister’s trumpet parts. The arrangement of small round tables inside the theatre lent the perfect atmospheric touch. I enjoyed her creative take on George Michael’s tune, “Careless Whisper” as well as a funkier, groovier version of “Give Me One Reason,” which veered away from the lyrics to include the names of her band members. The song turned into a jam session, with solos all around.
The audience’s vocal participation was needed on the final song, “Little Demons,” my favourite of the night, with its reggae-flavoured, quick-paced, frivolous energy. I could tell that Danielle Allard relished every moment spent surrounded by her loving audience and her talented band members. By the end of the set, the crowd had fully warmed to the diverse array of music, energy, and spirit delivered in this exquisite performance.