Review: Kim Harris CD Release Party

One of the brightest lights in the Halifax music scene is Kim Harris, a singer-songwriter originally from Corner Brook, NL.  Harris has appeared regularly in the city as a support act, in numerous local festivals including In The Dead Of Winter and Halifax Pop Explosion, and staged last summer's recreation of the entire soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet with Stewart Legere.  Last night, Harris launched her widely anticipated full-length debut Only The Mighty (released in February) with an incredible live show in the Spatz Theatre atrium in downtown Halifax.

Opening act Dark For Dark was the perfect complement to Harris, and as the last bits of daylight faded outside the atrium, Rebecca Zolkower's gentle vocals and guitar, the wordless harmonies of Melanie Stone and bassist Jess Lewis, and Asa Brosius' dreamy pedal steel guitar floated their songs into the stratosphere.  Highlights included their current single "Even", a cover of the Everly Brothers' "Crying In The Rain", and their set-ending version of the hymn "I'll Fly Away" that had Zolkower, Stone, and Lewis on their own verses, with Brosius contributing a memorable solo.

Dark For Dark's set brought the perfect atmosphere to the room for Harris and her band to take stage; once they began to play, the atrium seemed to transform.  Only The Mighty is a beautiful and gorgeous-sounding record, but the live setting really transformed Harris' voice into a searchlight piercing the darkness; the interplay between Harris, the exquisite harmonies from backing vocalists Legere and Margot Durling, and the band combined with the energy from the audience into something immediate and magical. 

There were many highlights throughout Harris' set, including a tight performance of "Dust", and a tender "Oh Lion" with guest vocals from the muse for the song, Jay Needham.   A few well-chosen covers were sprinkled across the night's songs, including tear-jerking renditions of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" (with Dark For Dark) and The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses".  The latter featured Only The Mighty's producer Dale Murray on steel guitar and a special guest appearance by Jenn Grant, whom Harris acknowledged as an influence.  A beautiful performance of "The Weight Of It All", Harris' most personal song, became transcendent upon the entrance of a "candle choir" of local musicians that accompanied Harris and her band on stage.  For the encore, Harris sent the audience into the night with "We Will Revel", featuring a guitar solo by Cursed Arrows' Ryan Stanley.

Kim Harris is definitely an artist poised for big things, and last night's release party captured this pivotal moment in her career perfectly.  If you have the opportunity to see her live, don't hesitate to do so.