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Salty, Spicy and Sweet: Aurora Bella’s Debut Album Release Party Satisfies All Your Taste Buds

Photos by Tracy Creighton, Article by Melanie Macpherson

As I entered Somewhere Else Pub & Grill for the first time last Friday, I was hit by a wave of comfort; that feeling of solace you get from great food smells, happy noises, and familiar faces.  After a delightful steak sandwich, some authentic seafood chowder, and a lovely spicy Thai noodle salad we settled in for a little music.  The night’s lineup included Kasia Leigh Leonard, also known as Sister Sadie Wilcox of Chesterfield, and The Matt Remenda Ensemble.  The reason for the party, though, was the release of Aurora Bella’s debut album Persephone

Kasia Leigh Leonard took the stage alone with a borrowed acoustic guitar and immediately had the crowd's attention.  She was adorable and enchanting with her cheeky fun bluegrass style.  I must have looked like an idiot with a big dumb grin on my face the entire time.  The set was a combination of original music as well as covers of songs you've likely never heard of before in an off-colour rainbow of humour.  Kasia kept the audience laughing, enchanted, and hanging on her every word.  If sets were food, this one would be a slightly over toasted pretzel; delightfully twisted, slightly salty and just a little darker than you were expecting, all the while being delectably soft and scrumptious.  

The Matt Remenda Ensemble or at least two-fifths of it, was a combination of fast pace hard-hitting classical style guitar combined with Matt's sexy, silky, smooth voice that had the temperature in the place rising.  Having never seen him before I had no idea what to expect, but I loved it; the crooning as well as the impressive guitar solos and the intensity Matt brings to the performance. I was completely won over when they played a phenomenal cover of Gnarls Barkley's “Crazy”, which is one of my favourite songs of all time.  It was a spicy little chili pepper of a set; bold, dramatic and with just the right punch of heat.

Aurora Bella was done up in red from head to toe, a perfect compliment to the pomegranate artwork on the album cover and associated merchandise.   Aurora was captivating from the first moment to the last.  She moved easily between the guitar, the ukulele and the piano with the ease of expertise.  Throughout the set, her two piece backing band was the perfect accompaniment.   Aurora played a full set plus a couple of bonus songs including some unreleased material along with the songs from the album.  The set was perfectly matched to her pomegranate logo; decadent and sweet but with some hard edges underneath to swallow. The kind of treat you really can’t wait to dig into and pull apart until you’ve savoured every piece.

Aurora Bella’s new album is a bold combination of satiny, jazz-infused vocals, witty and intelligent lyrics and a range of melodic accompaniments.  From fun, bouncy ukulele-in-the-sun tracks, like “Red MG”, to the smokey-piano-bar slink of “Black and Blue”.   The album stays true to Aurora's quirky yet genuine personality while exploring a variety of different musical styles and ideas. From break up songs with a bite, to female empowerment, to growing up, to Greek mythology, the album draws from a deep well of influences.  “Dumb Enough” was the first released single off the album. Aurora cleverly delves into the dangers of dumbing yourself down to make the people around you more comfortable. The freedom of accepting yourself for who you are and leaving those limiting relationships behind, is a consistent theme throughout the album. 

The standout song to me though, is the dramatic and soaring title track, “Persephone”.  Written about Persephone the Greek goddess of spring being trapped in the Underworld for half of each year after being kidnapped by Hades.  Each spring she emerges from the ground, like the pomegranate seeds that Hades used to tie her to the Underworld.  A story originally used to explain the existence of winter for half a year, followed by life forcing its way out of the ground to renew the world. If taken entirely literally, the song is a beautifully told story.  The underlying theme, however, of being trapped under the weight of the world has so many metaphorical implications for real life, that even without knowing the story of Persephone and her pomegranate, the song will still undoubtedly connect with audiences on a deeper level.  

This is definitely an album to add to your check-it-out list, and if you have the chance to see any of these 3 artists play live, don’t miss out.  I will definitely be watching for opportunities to see them all again.

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