Melodic and mesmerising with a hint of melancholy

Lowell **** (4 stars out of 6); February 15 at Ideal Bar

Walking into Ideal Bar, vintage Johnny Cash greets you as you step out of the cold. The small, one-room café is dark, and couples are paired up at round tables, sipping beers and humming in quieted conversation. The lights from the street filter in, but the ambience retains its cosy warmth.

Soon a short woman with Scandinavian blond hair and a tall, skinny man with a mop of brown come out shyly and take the stage, he behind a modest drum set and she behind a multi-level keyboard. “I don’t speak any Danish,” Lowell says by means of introduction. “I’m sorry.” Warm laughter runs through the crowd, and the Canadian native musters a quiet giggle.

Lowell works her keyboards, beginning with a basic beat, repeating it, singing delicate “ooh”s and adding continuous layers until you get lost in the web of rhythms and sounds. Drums come in and add yet another ingredient, and ‘If You Can, Solve This Jumble’ blossoms. Soon enough, the audience is mesmerised in this small, unpretentious song that packs an emotional punch. Particularly beautiful is Lowell’s passionate and confident voice, carrying the listener through the various levels of her musical composition.

A small “thank you” is murmured, and after a pause, she adds: “I wish I could speak Danish!” Don’t we all?

After beginning another song, this one more upbeat, she stops and changes her mind. “You guys are very attentive,” she says, and she switches to ‘The Birds’, a song that evokes a haunting melancholy, ever-punctuated by poignant vocals reminiscent of Regina Spektor and Lykke Li. The melody maintains its slow pacing throughout, but finishes on a soulful note that somehow feels uplifting.

Skilful at catering to the tone of the crowd, Lowell plays a few more dramatic songs, each expertly produced and balanced. Her drummer adds depth to a sound that might otherwise sound like something created in a studio. But she quickly veers at an opportune moment to lift the mood, playing the much livelier and fuller ‘Kids’. With lyrics that our inner children all can relate to – “we might just be kids, but we still know how to love” – this song gets toes tapping and smiles lifting.

‘Shake Him Off’, as she describes, is “probably the one you know” – if you’d heard of her at all. Her humility is well-received, and the atmosphere of the bar remains pleasantly mellow. This song is one that turns up the dial on strong, and Lowell’s voice is really clear even with her whimsical distortions.

The show is coming to an end when the singer announces that she’ll be playing a new song called ‘LGBT’. Gallantly, she claims that “even homophobes will sing along to this one.” And she might be right. This freeing song is incredibly endearing, full of fun rhymes like, “I’m happy and free, shouting letters L-G-B-T!” You laugh, you smile and you’re certainly head bopping to the lightness of the beats.

If you didn’t know better, Lowell might be a local Dane with killer keyboard skills. After all, she has the looks of one. But she has much more depth than your average rising star, and her voice is mesmerising. If you missed this one, be on the look-out – Copenhagen is sure to want her back sometime soon.

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