After two years, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is back in all its glory. The biggest jazz festival on the planet, the FIJM boasts more than 350 concerts this year, over two thirds of which are free. There’s no reason not to go (except for that small issue of the ongoing pandemic, of course), and the crowds were out last night in full force, eager to soak up the sounds and remember what summer in Montreal was like in the before times.
So no surprise that on the first Friday of this 42nd edition of the Festival, which coincided with a classically hot Canada Day, the crowds were huge and they were thirsty for good music. And Storry, one of the first shows of the evening, did not disappoint. In fact, she and her band hit it way out of the park. On the TD Stage at 6pm, with an ocean of fans old and new spread out before her, she more than proved that she is one of Canada’s fastest-rising musical stars.
Most of the songs she performed are from her album Ch. III: The Come Up, which traces her own journey from working in the sex industry as an erotic dancer to trying to make it in an equally misogynistic music industry. These are not songs of acquiescence, but rather of triumph, self-realization, independence, and empowerment. Heartbreak, loneliness, and hope also figure prominently in Storry’s lyrics. Highlights included Bow Down, A Lost Find, and the finale Leave My Heart Behind, in which she thrilled the audience with the sheer range and power of her classically trained voice (the show opened with a Mozart aria). The audience adored her: her stage presence is finely honed and her banter with the audience authentic and warm. Her well-crafted, powerful songs speak directly and profoundly to the lived experience of many, dare I say almost all, women. Shout-out to her tightly rehearsed band as well, featuring her co-writer/creative partner on piano, Yotam Baum.
Storry also treated her fans to a few songs not found on Ch. III. Her Juno-nominated reggae number Another Man, recorded with reggae legends Sly and Robbie in Jamaica, was great, as were a couple of tracks from her upcoming album Ch. II: Run (she performed the deceptively cute Round Bum Bum and the urgent Run). She also performed a just-released track called Intimate Abuse (to be included on the deluxe version of Ch. III) that focusses not so much on the pain of a toxic relationship but rather on the joy of experiencing something better.
Storry has everything it takes to make it in the music world: a powerhouse of a voice that has absorbed and transcended the influences of all the greats (think Aretha, Whitney, Mariah), a rock-solid stage presence, a great band, something very important to say and the means through which to say it. See her now before you can’t afford the tickets.