Editorial – Amber Waves; Photography – Amber Waves; J.J. Deogracias
There’s a definite buzz in the room as Joe and I hit The Garrison for our last festival night as a duo. It would seem that others have caught on to what OTM realized several months ago: Motel Raphaël is poised for breakout.
I’m tapping my toes to the harmonies at The Garrison when I recall The Blog Slagging Canadian Music That Shall Not Be Named referring to the group as The Dixie Chicks. Superficially, I suppose someone could draw the comparison, except The Dixie Chicks were really not that gifted with songwriting chops, nor did their vocals impress me. They also lack the fun stories about broken booze bottles and fondness for Spice Girls that are but two reasons to dig on Motel Raphaël.
With their first single “Ghosts” already spinning on YouTube and phenomenal performance out of the gate of the CBC Searchlight competition, it’s hard to believe that the band’s only been active for little over a year. The cohesive sound and stage candor likely stem from the friendship at the foundation of forefront trio Emily Skahan, Clara Legault and Maya Malkin. What’s also impressive is the delicate earnestness of their sonic stories, punctuated with just a little bit of a firm kick to the shin of those who’ve wronged them. If you’ve been wondering where all of the soulful songstresses that exploded during Lilith Fair’s heyday have gone, I may just have a lead for you to follow up.
This isn’t to classify the band as “chick music”, although there’s nothing wrong with it. Plenty of guys were swaying and nodding along in the crowd. Really, it’s all about the appreciation of an acoustic-tinged tale reminiscent of a medieval minstrel with a little 60s handclap action for pop flavour. Minimalism meets slightly madcap, Montreal continues to bestow jewels for the Canadian music crown.