LIVE: Heather Nova @ The Linda, 4/8/16
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
“Nothing’s promised in this life
So I am thankful that we’re here tonight
Take my hand and let’s look up at the stars
We can make them ours…”
The old cliche goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but in the here-today, gone-tomorrow world of pop music, absence can be a real career-killer, too.
The Bermuda-based singer-songwriter Heather Nova has been making records for nearly a quarter century, and she’s maintained a high-profile career in Europe, but she hasn’t toured the U.S. in 15 years. Fortunately, that’s changed, and she’s Stateside in support of her latest album, The Way It Feels.
Even more fortunately, her current month-long swing through America and Canada brought her to The Linda recently, and if the cars in the parking lot were any indication, out of state fans flocked to the show from Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and Quebec. She may have only a cult following in the States these days, but they are definitely devoted fans.
Nova has always possessed a magnificent voice, and at 48 years of age, she sounds as strong and angelic as ever, effortlessly stretching into her upper register to hit all of the high notes. She played guitar throughout the 90-minute concert, occasionally picking up a ukulele (on “The Archaeologist” and “Moon River Days,” a pair of sweet songs from the new album) or sitting down to the grand piano for the achingly intimate ballad “Fool for You.”
She was accompanied only by Arnulf Linder, a utility multi-instrumentalist, who switched from electric guitar to cello to piano to backing vocals to bass (on a uke!) throughout the hour and a half performance. Impressive, indeed.
Nova played enough of the new album to whet the fans’ appetites (the atmospheric opening ballad “Treehouse” was the best of the batch), but she offered selections from all throughout her career – especially her 1994 breakthrough album, Oyster – to thoroughly satisfy them.
There were two opening acts for the show, both playing solo. NYC-by-way-of-Seattle singer-songwriter Chris Riffle scored some major points with his half-hour set, singing in a hushed, almost whispered style somewhat reminiscent of Al Stewart from his opening “Far From the Sea” to the closing “All That We Hold.” And while 26-year-old Brooklyn-based Brian Dunne has a lovely voice and an engaging onstage presence, his 21st century take on the woes of the ramblin’ folksinger failed to uncover any new ground.
Reprinted with the permission of The Times Union
HEATHER NOVA SET LIST
I Wanna Be Your Light
Girl on the Mountain
Moon River Days
London Rain (Nothing Heals Me Like You Do)
Fool for You
Like Lovers Do
Walk This World