Jay Miln at Canadian Music Week 2014

JayMiln-1I love it when a maybe-check-em-out manages to bump up to a resounding yes with the first few chords; or in the case of Jay Miln, the first few bumps.

The Scotland native came to Toronto – specifically Rancho Relaxo – for Canadian Music Week by way of St. John’s. And while there’s hardly any trace of a Scottish accent in his vocals – “I lost it somewhere between here and Scotland,” he says – the man can seriously wail.

‘Crooked’, for example, is a beautiful ballad that mixes wonderful hating vocals and an eerily simple acoustic accompaniment with amazingly heartfelt lyrics.

But don’t mistakenly take Miln for a run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter. His passion and skill as a musician are obvious. But what really blows me away is his aptitude as a performer. He is a master on stage, bringing the early 9 pm crowd to its feet. He uses pedals to bring a full-band sound to his solo act, and is probably the only person to successfully incorporate beat boxing and Spanish into his set without sounding cheesy.

From a musical standpoint, Miln is able to switch seamlessly between honky tonk with underlying rock sensibilities, to popish acoustic ballads, to bluesy folk tunes with ease. He’s able to evoke several different emotions with each of his original songs.

JayMiln-2‘Six Weeks’, another acoustic ballad, features sweetly acidic vocals with an underlying pain. The music dips to a quiet hush before spinning into a passionate growly chorus, bringing the crowd to its feet with cheers.

If his originals didn’t win you over, his covers certainly will. Miln’s version of the Black Keys’ ‘Lonely Boy’ gave the duo a run for their money, while his stripped-down cover of Gorillaz’s ‘Clint Eastwood’ was beautifully raw.

Miln rounded his set with an outstanding Alt-J cover that simply proved his versatility and his chops as a performer to be reckoned with.

For more on Jay Miln, visit his Facebook page.

Click here for a photo gallery from the show, and click here to see part of his performance!

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