Coco Love Alcorn

No, Seriously.

Let me be blunt: I hate divas. Especially jazz divas a la Holly Cole and Diana Krall. They all seem to sound the same, and they all seem to sing other people’s music indiscernably from the original artist. So I was skeptical when my friend Gillian (serendipitously in Vancouver from Taiwan during my equally brief visit) suggested we go see Coco Love Alcorn at the Railway Club.

At most small club shows, you wouldn’t be able to spot the talent in the crowd until it took to the stage, and this one was no exception. Gillian (a friend of Coco’s from the days they both travelled with 54-40) found Coco before her set started and I got to meet her and have a brief chat. While Coco didn’t mention it, I learned from another one of her friends that Coco wasn’t feeling well, and every word she spoke was agony.

Coco started her set with an a capella song (something I first saw with another great Canadian up-and-comer, Adrienne Pierce) that had very inspiring lyrics, along the lines of you’re-greater-than-you-think-so-rise-to-your -greatness. But the words were secondary; halfway into the first verse, the chatty, indifferent audience of the Railway Club was stilled and silenced. Behind the bar, servers put down their glasses and stood transfixed by what they heard. The sound was so raw, and pure, and strong, that it was less like listening to a new voice than discovering a new sense altogether. She moved smoothly, but not stupidly and acrobatically, through octaves and phrases, with textures ranging from crisp clarion to soft, sexy whisper. And let me say again: she wasn’t feeling well.

All I can do is to put this as clearly as anyone familiar with my preferred style would understand: My ears had hard-ons, and by the end of the show, I was in desperate need of a cotton swab.

Coco has a new album coming soon, which you can look for on her web site. If you see this unforgettable name in the entertainment listings near you, please, don’t miss out on Miss Alcorn.

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