She Could Force You, But She Doesn’t Have To

photo by RDM Photography and Art & Lionheart Entertainment

On one of the first winter nights in Vancouver, you may not have found many people out on the slushy streets, but inside the Railway Club the tables and stage were full of people, and electric with sound.

There are few things not involving fire and hot chocolate that can warm you up right on a winter night; a set of soul, funk, and jazz fused into a steaming gumbo of urban rock is one of those things. Chaplyn is a Vancouver-based singer who has toured across North America and has returned to her home city with a new band and a desire to spread the word to whoever is willing to listen about crack daddies and bad dudes.

The band backing up the singer looked like they were ripped straight out of a gaslight Seattle dive. The rhythm section played a minimalistic set of music – a thin layer of smoke that hung around the stage like an evening fog. A funk bass and a just-loud-enough guitar made the club a cozy place to be.

“The rock show starts now,” Chaplyn said as her band took the stage at 10 p.m. She has a voice soaked in sass and a permanent smirk kissing her lips, and an onstage persona that makes you believe she’s singing it all for the first time.

Chaplyn has a fantastic singing voice, but certainly didn’t overuse it. Many of the funkier songs in the set had her performing something in between rap and spoken word, with her singing only picking up in the chorus. Her singing voice warmed up the entire venue, so it was a bit of a disappointment each time she spent four minutes not using it.

There are two ways to sell an audience on your performance. You can connect with them by communicating and developing a relationship, or you can simply declare who you are and what you’re about and give the audience no choice but to join you. Chaplyn chooses the latter, and that isn’t a slight; her performance and her character are so deliberate from the second she walks on stage, your attention has no alternative.

The band may be new but the synergy seemed practiced – Chaplyn led the band through song after song of tight jams and commanded a confidence that stole the Railway’s heart. It’s good to see a fearless performer, but it’s even better to see that fearlessness pay off.

Chaplyn played a set of tunes that could warm anyone up. Though it’s music that felt good coming in from the cold, it’s music you should listen to no matter what the temperature is on the outside, because once she starts singing, it’s bound to get warm on the inside.