Contrary to most Cultures, Canada is vocally proud of its multicultural roots and global identity. Despite the fact that most of us (Canadians) are generally in agreement with this statement, even the residents of Residents of Toronto frequently refer to their city as a “cultural melting pot”. While this isn’t an inherently mean spirited statement, it is uttered with far more frequency when its context is something akin to any pair of historic European arch-enemy factions, who share a community during FIFA.
Too many people seem emphasize “melting”, when the important part’s “cultural”. Visionary artists, such as Delilah, have an innate understanding that the aforementioned melting pot metaphor works both ways.
The promising Toronto Jazz songstress lay’s down such a performance on her 4 tack EP, “Sarah + 1, A Tribute To Sarah Vaughan” that it is easy to miss the subtext behind her personal life and personal inspirations. Delilah began her singing career when she was 10, and continued to purse her songstress ambitions after she moved to Canada when she was 19.
Regardless of how versed one may be with Steve Tyrell or Tony Bennett, there is something captivating about Delilah’s particular style of singing, which reflects likes a mirror off of the underlying, smooth, background piano and saxophone support. For example: “September Rain” is as refreshing as a summer morning jog, where Delilah’s siren singing chimes in as sweet as a pure spoon of sugar.
“Just Friends” follows up with a slower, sober sounding melody. The bleak lyrics of this song may appear as if they were written in a teenager’s journal, which may mislead some tough guy listeners (such as myself, obviously) to scoff under their breath during the initial play through. After a few repeat, attentive listening, however, Delilah’s crestfallen brand of bitter-sweet chiming narration begins to make one reach whatever poison they use to keep their emotional stitching numb and tightly done up.
The next track, “Whatever Lola Wants” is the titular cover of the Grammy award winning jazz singer Sarah Vaughan. While this 1955 classic has much iteration, Sarah Vaughn’s version was immortalized by her trade mark sassy stylization matter-of-fact-pace that soars over the supporting back up brass and drums. What makes Delilah’s modern adaptation of Vaughn’s culturally engrained style seems to be more of a theatrical statement. Instead of recreating Vaughn’s almost minimalistic approach, this track goes for a grander approach, with livelier percussions and brass backdrops over a particularly sultry and sensuous re-definition of “Whatever Lola Wants…. Lola gets… You’re no exception to the rule… I’m irresistible you fool…”
“Smile” is may or may not be Delilah’s most immediately representative song on this record, but is inarguably the track with the lengthiest amount of relevance to western art’s history. While the timelessly positive lyrics and titular subject matter were originally authored and added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954, the original musical composition was written in 1936, by none other than Charlie Chaplin. This intimidating history is definitely well handled and adapted by Delilah to be in context with her style, on-stage persona and the intended message. The backing harmony of piano chimes, blasé strings and enduring percussions really personify the bitter-sweet atmosphere of the song. But when Delilah’s slow, soothing voice enters the mix, it really turns into something powerful, like an antidote for avenoir, exulansis, altschmerz and all of the other obscure sorrows.
It really pays to consider the songstresses’ aforementioned personal origin story, as makes both the context and authority in “Smile” personal and knowledgeable. Both of those truly artistic agencies that force the listeners to even temporarily re-frame or question the self a not only a reflection to Delilah’s craft, but a testament to the “cultural” melting pot that permits such depth and vigour, even from music that was composed half a century ago.
As a youth culture that is broadly defined by the trends it pursues, few artists incentive or interest to explore the truly remarkable chapters of own history, let alone attempt to interpret their significance for others. Delilah’s “Sarah + 1, A Tribute To Sarah Vaughan” is not only a perfect representation of the musician, but of how a dedicated perspective of the seminal individuals and genres can be written to raise new interest from those outside of the modern niche.