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Zella Day Live In Toronto

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(Photo by Mark Abell)

Twenty-year-old Zella Day is gaining a lot of momentum within the contemporary music scene lately due to her riveting June appearance on Conan and the rapid exposure and playback of her song “Hypnotic” which has received over fourteen million views on Spotify.

I had the privilege of witnessing the Pinetop, Arizona native play live this past Wednesday at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. She took the stage looking like a young Keira Knightley, wearing an elaborate floral print silk robe over a black skin-tight top, revealing a flat athletic midriff with flowing flowery velour pants. With her wrists clad in silvery bracelets and her fingers adorned in turquoise rings, she looked like a welcome throwback to the ’60s. Day played a short hour set to a mostly subdued crowd of denim and wide brimmed felt hat-clad hipsters which ranged from flannel-attired nineteen year old college kids to well-dressed thirty-somethings. Her set list included: “High,” “East Of Eden,” “Ace Of Hearts,” “Mustang Kids,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Sweet Ophelia” and an acoustic cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

In the age of Auto Tune, the quality of Day’s vocals was impressive–she was able to effortlessly replicate the sound of her recorded tracks in a small venue with limited resources for reflecting a sound worthy, audiophile-grade performance. It doesn’t hurt that Day is highly charismatic and has a very engaging stage presence; her movements are free-spirited, sensual, and fluid. The gypsy-like swaying of her arms and bohemian shakes of her torso brought to mind an aesthetic reminiscent of Cher early in her career.

Thankfully, she swims against the pervasive promiscuous image of many of today’s pop stars and projected a graceful, feminine beauty. She described with gratitude the experience of playing music to signing with a major label and performing her songs for a living as “a journey.”