By Tara Rose
Luna Li, known as Toronto’s garage rock princess (Mick Magazine) released her new 4-track EP Opal Angel last week, celebrating with a release show at the Smiling Buddha. The Opal Angel release show featured Toronto band HEX as well as Montreal’s ggpeach.
The night as a whole served as a reflection of Luna Li herself: beautiful, mesmerizing; at one moment dark and dreamy, and the next a full colour celebration of music and female energy. Luna Li began her set with the audience seated as she performed a duo set with her drummer as she looped guitar and violin, playing songs including the EP title track Opal Angel. The affecting beauty of Luna’s voice coupled with her sublime violin playing was a wonderful and distinct way to begin. After her last violin song, Luna turned and walked off stage as a dancer ascended to the plexiglass platform lit from below. Luna’s voice echoed though the venue in a voiceover speaking of a dreamland, as the dancer embodied the poem though movement. As the poem and dance came to an end, Luna returned to the stage in a full silver sequin dress, followed by the rest of her band, as the audience stood and cheered.
The band launched into the heavier songs their live performances are known for. Luna’s guitar solos wailed as she ascended to the lit platform, closer to the audience, as they reached towards her. The energy of their set was infectious, leaving the audience wanting more, chanting for an encore. The band returned to perform a song they have not played live since VEINS; Head in the Clouds, as if to offer a little something special to the people who have seen them play since the beginning. It was an amazing night to celebrate the release of the EP, recorded and produced at Luna’s go-to studio Marquee Sound (owned and operated by the band’s drummer Braden Sauder). Though the EP is short, the range of songs speaks to Luna’s diverse abilities as a musician and songwriter.
The EP opens with the title track Opal Angel, a moody and sexy melody with heavy guitar lending itself to the chorus “hey pretty girl put that record on, and I’ll kiss you in the back of the parking lot”. The song carries a dark and beautiful energy with its swirling synths and slow beat. The next song, Need a Lil Love, is an upbeat track firing back at those who objectify and sexualize others without consent. Need a little love meant ironically, as if those cat callers were providing something welcomed. The song begins with a low shuffling bass line, and builds towards the end where it culminates in the final chorus, arrangement complete with a horn section, loud guitars and powerful vocals. Truly an anthem for the times! The third song is Star Stuff, which won Luna the SOCAN Young Songwriter’s award a couple months back. It’s an upbeat and a super catchy song that speaks to the beauty in diversity; we’re all made of star stuff, we are all worthy and unique.
The guitar solo in the middle of the song, played by Luna herself, is a ripping, ecstatic break from the lyrics, bridging together the beginning lyrics of being shot down by someone else’s negativity, and the end of the song, which expresses the joyous essence of Star Stuff. The final song, Ghosting, brings things full circle for Luna, as Ghosting was one of the songs on her very first demo EP also entitled Ghosting. This was released before Hannah was Luna, before the Luna Li band, even before VEINS, back when Hannah was just a talented girl in her bedroom, exploring strong emotions and putting them to song for the first time. Aptly titled Ghosting, the song is haunting in its simplicity and depth. The track is also the only one on the album that showcases Luna on the violin, featuring string arrangements that compliment the swirling emotions of the song.
The EP is complete in and of itself; a wonderful encapsulation of Luna’s vision and creativity. But it has also spawned immense interest for what she will do next – a full length album is in the cards and we can’t wait to see what the opal angel herself has in store.