When the COVID-19 pandemic handed Halifax’s EVERYSEEKER music festival lemons, organizers not only made lemonade but spiked it with a potent mix of ingenuity and creativity that reimagined what festival programming could look like when it moves fully online. EVERYSEEKER: Emergent Response is a cross-platform collaboration that features live Zoom workshops, online interviews, video premieres, and Instagram live streams.
PEI-based MC LXVNDR hosted one of the aforementioned Instagram performances. She was curled up on the floor and intoxicating viewers with selections like “No Way” from her recent release, Warmth. Even via a limiting portal like an Instagram live feed, LXVNDR’s intimate show highlighted her free spirit and spiritual connectedness. At the show’s onset, referencing a deck of oracle cards, she established a relaxed vibe by recognizing the “wild unknown” times that brought her performance online and acknowledging the growing sense of rebirth and renewal that’s (fingers crossed) beginning to take hold.
The oracle cards also offered up a curious divination when LXVNDR pulled up a sugar maple card. Along with being an overtly Canadian symbol, she described the card as a reminder to bring authenticity to everything that we do. Such a reminder seemed oddly redundant after watching her compelling live stream. There was no need for any kind of overtly showy set-up; with houseplants and her own home furnishings as a backdrop and with nothing more than a microphone and backing track, her performance was nothing but authentic and true. The same is true when listening to LXVNDR’s recorded output.
On record, “No Way” revels in “the wild unknown”. It starts with a skittering, spare beat, hypnotic in the way a ticking time bomb can lull you into focusing on the anticipation of a coming explosion rather than its imminence. “No Way” doesn’t explode so much as smoulder and burn. LXVNDR skips through rapid-fire staccato verses before fanning the flames with a soulful chorus that intones the song’s title like a spell. The chill and charm of “No Way” feels like the very epitome of restoration.
It’s difficult to pin down any one particular influence when listening to LXVNDR. You’ll pick up elements of trip-hop, soul, reggae, pop, and R&B, but what you won’t do is draw a direct comparison to any other artist. LXVNDR has an authentic sound, style — and soul — all her own. Just ask the oracle cards.