Sunday, February 12, 2023


If you're a Fredericton-area resident (like me), give yourself a Valentine's treat Tuesday evening and take in Erin Costelo's show at the Playhouse. One of the region's top singer-songwriters and producers (Kaia Kater, Leanne Hoffman, Roxy & the Underground Soul Sound), Costelo is doing a show paying tribute to not one, but two albums. One of them is a big favourite and influence for her, and the other is one of her own, celebrated its tenth anniversary. 

For the past few years, Costelo has on special occasions performed a tribute show to Carole King's classic 1971 album Tapestry. The epitome of the singer-songwriter genre of the early '70's, it was for a time the biggest-selling album in history, and features such hits as "I Feel The Earth Move," "It's Too Late," and "You've Got A Friend." It was an album where fans knew every note, and it's fun to watch folks sing along with every word at Costelo's concert. She's the perfect interpreter for the album, not engaged in a slavish reproduction but rather, she's invested in the material, and you can tell how these classics helped her become the meaningful writer she is today.

I've seen her do the Tapestry show before, and while I'm looking forward to it again, I'm even more pleased that Costelo has chosen to feature her own album We Can Get Over as well. It's her third, from 2012, and was the one that won me over. As soon as I heard the vintage eloquence of opener "Oh Me Oh My," with its 60s soul/girl group vibe, I felt I'd found a kindred lover of emotional, highly-crafted pop music. The references are everywhere, from the electric piano ballad "I Don't Know Anything," surely an equal of a Roberta Flack number, to the Muscle Shoals Southern soul of "Down Down," to the Randy Newman grandeur of the title cut. I can't wait to hear these songs again.

The fact that her two following albums, Down Below, The Status Quo, and Sweet Marie, are even stronger is a testament to her obvious artistry, my only complaint being the lack of more releases. But of course, she's been plenty busy with production projects, and now her new job as the producer of CBC Radio's East Coast Music Hour. In the meantime, watch out for a vinyl reissue of We Can Get Over very soon, as well as a new video version of the song Hold Me, featuring one Matt Andersen. Meanwhile, the Tapestry/We Can Get Over tour continues:

Tuesday, Feb. 14 - Fredericton, The Playhouse
Thursday, Apr. 06 - Saint John, Imperial Theatre
Saturday, Apr. 08 - Annapolis Royal, King's Theatre
Saturday, Apr. 15 - Windsor, Mermaid Theatre

Wednesday, February 8, 2023


An old hand in the downtown Toronto roots scene, Nicholas is now calling Kentville, N.S., home and hey, he fits in nicely in the Maritimes too. This is album #4 for Nicholas, who specializes in summing up life and love in plain-spoken, well-humoured stories. Sometimes there's a rural feel, like the title cut with a mountain fiddle, while others have a full roots-rock band behind, piano, organ, and guitar.

I love all the mixing of wit and wisdom. In the country twang of "Fell In Love and I Broke It," Nicholas lists all the things around the house that are placed out of reach, "family crystal and fine china plates, all the things you're not meant to touch, afraid you might enjoy such things too much."  Admitting he wasn't meant for such precious things, he jumps into a love he finds, and you know what happened next. He brings life to the old nursery rhyme in "Dish and the Spoon," which doesn't work out so swell after they run away, with the spoon stepping out with a bowl one fateful night: "Hey diddle diddle went that old nursery rhyme/Human hearts can be fickle most all of the time."

There's a little pearl of wisdom in each song, a little heartbreak, and a few laughs as well, a bit of melancholy, and lots of toe-tapping too. Nicholas is returning to his old haunts to launch the new album this month. He's going to be at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 18, followed by a bunch of Ontario shows right through March, and then a month of gigs around the Maritimes in April. Find all the details at