Review: Jenn Grant and Great Lake Swimmers bring pleasant vibes to Fredericton

The first show of the 2019-20 Fredericton Playhouse Spotlight Series featured Jenn Grant’s bright folk-pop style and the Great Lake Swimmers’ dreamy tones.

The two acts played off each other skillfully, catching the crowd with their charismatic presence. The Great Lake Swimmers came to Fredericton as part of their fall tour of eastern Canada. Grant stopped at the Playhouse before heading to a show in Dublin, Ireland.

Jenn Grant brought her imaginative storytelling and casual charm while opening for the Great Lake Swimmers. The Halifax singer drew people in with her floaty melodies and kept them with her sly wit.

Opening with “Dreamer,” a soft lullaby from her 2007 album Orchestra for the Moon, Grant entranced  her audience instantly.

Grant’s performance was lighthearted, the playful bond she and her husband Daniel Ledwell, who accompanied her on guitar and backing vocals, shared kept the audience chuckling. At one point she unsuccessfully tried to make him sing a Spice Girls song.

Grant skillfully transitioned to a more soulful, longing tone with “Bring Me a Rose.” She wielded wistfulness like a blade and cut deep into the hearts of the crowd with lyrics that reflected heavily on the past.

Wainfleet, Ontario’s Great Lake Swimmers brought dreamy tones and an easygoing atmosphere to the Playhouse stage. (Young Joo Jun/AQ)

The theme of family was prominent in Grant’s mind as she moved into “Favorite Daughter,” a song about her child from her most recent album Love, Inevitable. Grant noted she wrote it before her birth of her child and ended up having a son.

“I thought I was having a daughter because my psychic told me that,” she said on stage.

Grant shared how she had experienced complications during her pregnancy, and her struggle during that. The song was one of the most emotionally charged pieces that night.

As Grant reached the end of her set, the crowd yelled song titles for her to perform. She ended the night with her 2013 East Coast Music Award winning Song of the Year “I’ve Got Your Fire.”

The Great Lake Swimmers were an easygoing contrast to Grant’s peppy attitude. They jumped straight into their first song, “In A Certain Light” from their new album The Waves, the Wake. Vocalist Tony Dekker’s soft, even quality lulled the audience to a still silence.

Dekker shared his worries about the changing world in another song from their latest release titled “Alone but Not Alone,” lamenting how technology has bound us together while pushing society further apart.

Still, there was room for joy as James Taylor, the band’s fill-in for member Erik Arnesen, busted out the banjo in “Your Rocky Spine,” invigorating the crowd as they clapped along. The spirited song stood out as a more audience-friendly piece, bridging the gap between the stage and seats.

Dekker finished the night off with “The Open Sea,” the final song of their new album, leaving the crowd in a dreamy spirit.

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