“The Once” Conquer Toronto
“One of the best acts I have ever seen and heard – period”, whispered a legendary, veteran Canadian record producer to me last night about Newfoundland folk-trio, The Once. The soft-spoken man is not usually prone to hyperbole, and I shook my head in agreement while I stood behind my video-camera at the back of the Gladstone Hotel ballroom in Toronto. And while I don’t usually find myself in awe of an act that generally covers other peoples’ compositions, I will make an exception here.
Geraldine Hollett’s voice is the most exquisite I’ve heard since Caroline Brooks (2010 Juno winning Good Lovelies), Andrew Dale and Phil Churchill’s voices are delightful complements to Geri’s, and the boys in particular are outstanding players (bouzouki, mandolin, guitar, banjo, and more).
In fact, The Once compare very well to Good Lovelies in that they are uber-pro trios, feature well-polished, nipple-hardening harmonies, are young, beautiful, but no longer 21 years old, and are fantastically charismatic on stage. And while Good Lovelies have proven their songwriting prowess and earned their Juno (a surprise to me, frankly, I thought that would have to wait another record or two), The Once have the uncanny ability to floor an audience with a song, such as they did last night in Toronto with Leonard Cohen’s Anthem.