I was on my way to see Daniella Watters on the first night of Canadian Music Week when the band Unbuttoned veered me off course.
Fast-forward to a few days later and I was on my way to see Watters again when I was told about Cold Specks, a blues “doom soul” singer who is being compared to Mahalia Jackson.
Did I veer off course again? Not this time! And I’m glad I didn’t because Watters put on one of the best R&B shows of CMW.
A crowd had gathered behind me in the cramped backroom of Czehoski during her second CMW show of the festival. After the third, “Sit down! We can’t see!” I took my camera and moved to the side, settling in for the performance.
When the set began I immediately remembered why I wanted to see her to begin with, Watters can sing and she does so with passion. Composed and confident, at only 23-years-old, the baby faced Watters is far more poised than many performers her age. With a glimmer in her eye and a turquoise feather in her hair she took her big R&B sound through a fabulous 9-song-set list.
Creating a midnight soul vibe, “Your Eyes,” “Feel For” and “More Than Friends,” were sexy standout songs. What is great about Watters’s sound is that it retains the warmth and funk that made neo-soul/R&B take off in the late 90’s but it refrains from the stale vibe that many contemporary singers get stuck in in their attempt to recreate that sound.
A chameleon in both sound and style, Watters embraces everything from rock to pop but her voice shines when she’s in the soulful mood. Her live show provided a cohesive glimpse at where this artist is going musically (in contrast to her SoundCloud page that reveals Watters in a playful yet unfocused experimentation mode).
Ending her set off with a soul rock rendition of “Satisfaction,” her big funky band and backup singers (who were all wonderful) finished the show with the vigor they began with. With any luck this sound will be brought to her upcoming album. Stay tuned!