Live Review: Conner Youngblood - Fox Cabaret, Vancouver 08/12/2018
We caught Conner Youngblood in Vancouver as a part of his quick US and Canada west coast tour, in support of his newest album Cheyenne, released August 17th this year.
Dallas-born and Nashville-based musician Conner Youngblood is known for his genre-defying ambient sound that makes anyone listening feel like they’re in a wonderful, cozy dream state. His music isn’t something you’d necessarily think about hearing live, it tends to feel more like a soundtrack (think Jose Gonzales on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack), but seeing Conner bring these tracks to life, and hearing the stories behind them, creates an entirely different experience. Also, his dog Juno just kinda hangs out on stage the entire set, and it’s wonderful.
Because the tour is supporting his new album, he played it in its entirety, including two full songs inspired by birdwatching (Birds of Finland and Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge), a song about wanting a brother (My Brother’s Brother), and two songs about cities he’s never been to (Sulphur Springs and Yellowknife). From the layered electronic-but-still-somehow-acoustic sound all of his songs have, as well as the way he describes the inspiration behind each of the songs, it’s fairly obvious that Conner isn’t inspired so much by a literal experience, but the idea of an experience. A great example would be Birds of Finland, where during the show he explained that he got the idea from reading or watching videos about birdwatching, and also Sulphur Springs which is an actual city that he drives past on his way from Nashville to Dallas but has never actually gone to. The songs are how he imagines a place to be or feel and it gives him creative licence to create whatever soundscape he pleases. There are not many, if any, artists who create in this way and it gives his music a truly unique perspective and sound.
Throughout the evening Conner had a quiet confidence which paired wonderfully with his dry sense of humour. He seems very aware that the fact that he writes songs about places he’s never been and things he’s never experienced is somewhat unusual, so he’s able to make jokes and laughs along with the audience as he talks about it. He’s also not opposed to tacking on a couple extra songs at the end of the set (time permitting) when coaxed by a room full of people who don’t want to stop hearing him play. So, after an incredible cover of the old Scottish folk song, Wild Mountain Thyme, played on a hurdy-gurdy no less, he played a couple extra songs from previous releases.
Conner Youngblood is an extraordinarily talented musician, able to switch seamlessly between 4 guitars, a keyboard, drum pad, ukulele and manipulate his voice in so many ways to create stunning ethereal soundscapes. A definite must see if he’s ever playing in your city!
Words and Photography by Kelli Anne Lane