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Review: Tight harmonies, blues, folk, twang, skibida bee bop: The GodDamsels bring it all in PA

words and pictures by Scott Roos

This past Friday, September 8th at the Rock Trout in Prince Albert, Edmonton's The GodDamsels put on an energetic set in front of a modest but enthusiastic crowd. Opening the set was Prince Albert’s own Janaya McCallum.

“I had a great time opening for the GodDamsels in my hometown to a very attentive and warm crowd,” McCallum told NSMZ after the show, “It warms the heart. Hope to be back soon.”

McCallum played for about a half an hour sprinkling in her fair share of original tunes and a few tasteful Joni Mitchell covers showing off multi-faceted, skillful, vocal acrobatics as her performance progressed. Her sister Jolissa joined her on a few songs as well, briefly reuniting the famed Jay and Jo. The audience was grateful to see the sisters share the stage.

McCallum’s solo style, in general, is folksy with a mild dash of twang. She makes use of the louds and softs, taking you on an emotional journey as she sings. There’s both power and precision in what she does vocally. On top of all this, her guitar picking is tasteful and complimented her voice quite well.

By contrast, the GodDamsels were plugged in, bringing a full backup band. The tight harmonies of vocalists Freddi MacDougall and Mallory Chipman were on point in their delivery and those in attendance lapped it up intently. The band, whilst billed as “country” were actually quite versatile, at times sonically vibing blues, bits of jazz and folk.

Electric guitar player Brett Hansen did a great Derek Trucks impersonation whilst acoustic player Kyle Shabada proved to be a capable foil with his Django Reinhardt-esque skibida bee bop, razamasnaz shit. Truth be told, the two guitarists when “in the pocket” are just as impressive a one two punch as Chipman and MacDougall are on vocals. It’s actually one of the things that makes this band so great. Hot damn they are good.

Of course, much of this is possible due to Bassist Murray Wood and drummer Shea Connor laying the groove foundation for it all to go down like expert brick layers shaping the contrasts with their musical trowels keeping the backbeat silky smooth.

Soooooooo, at the end of the day, The Rock Trout is putting on some killer shows. It’s a vibe when you go out to this place. The food is good, the beer is cold… The service is first rate and the music is stellar. Thanks of course also goes out to Danny Fournier of Oddball Productions. Top notch entertainment. Please do this again soon.

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