Two minutes after she stepped on to the St. Lawrence Stage on Saturday, February 25, Lynn Miles made it crystal clear why she is the winner of numerous music awards, including a Juno, and one of Canada’s best regarded singer/song writers. The Morrisburg audience loved her voice, loved her music, loved her show.
Backed by the inimitable Keith Glass, singer and guitarist from the renowned group Prairie Oyster, the Lynn Miles concert ended much too soon. We could have listened to her rich voice all night.
Miles’ voice, described by Jeanne Ward of the St. Lawrence Stage, in her introduction, as “utterly beautiful,” can surprize as well as delight. Miles has an incredible vocal range. Sometimes she sings softly with a deep sense of melancholy, sometimes her vocals are upbeat and jazzy: and sometimes she simply belts out good old rock and roll.
She and Glass shared the stage with the ease of professionals who have worked together long enough to be completely comfortable with each other. The banter between them, at times, seemed as much a part of the concert performance as the music.
“It’s really lovely to be back here at the St. Lawrence Stage again.” Miles told the crowd (she performed here in 2009) with a grin, “but I have to tell you that we had to drive all the way up from Collingwood in that snow storm yesterday. When we left, I had black hair.”
“When we left, I had hair,” Glass shot back as the audience roared its approval.
Miles performed a wide range of music at Saturday’s concert. She definitely cannot be fitted into any one “category” or genre. The strong country sound of Three Chords and the Truth was followed by the soft, almost romantic approach of Everybody’s Given Up On Me.
In an earlier interview with The Leader, Miles said that she primarily sees herself as a song writer, one for whom words, and the feelings and images they create, mean a lot.
She said that while she often writes about difficult or challenging themes, she sees her role as an artist to take such issues and “turn them into a kind of beauty, and to touch people in the process.”
In Love is Red, she sang “I wish I could take it back/fix this broken side walk crack…You loved me, I loved you/We said things that were not true..”
Miles poignant reflection on domestic abuse touched the audience as she sang “Love doesn’t leave its mark on you/Love doesn’t leave you black and blue/Love doesn’t push you down in the dirt/Love isn’t mean and love doesn’t hurt.”
Earlier in the day, Miles gave a song-writing workshop for nearly 20 aspiring students.
“The workshop was fantastic,” said Francine Leclair, who came down for the workshop and concert from Ottawa. “It was great to hear her philosophy. I remember most that Lynn said ‘you have to live your life as an artist.’
She shares so much of herself with you when she works with you.”
Sandra Whitworth, on the board of the St. Lawrence Stage, also attended the workshop, and said she gained “such insight. You learn how an artist composes, how she handles challenges. Lynn’s advice really helps.”
“I’ve written about 680 songs,” Miles laughed. “Three are happy.” Then she proved her point with an unexpectedly sweet little piece “Never the grey sky/Never the gloom…Open the windows/ Put your joy on display/ It’s time for the sun to have its day…”
Throughout the entire concert, Miles was beautifully accompanied by Keith Glass both on vocals and on guitar.
Her musical insights, her sense of humour, her powerful voice made Lynn Miles’ performance at the St. Lawrence Stage an evening of pure joy for a very appreciative audience.