Mother Tongue

Hookah Cafe

August 17, 2004

Mother Tongue was a trio that played soothing songs about love and politics Tuesday night at the Hookah Cafe. Soothing songs about politics? Yes, it was possible only because their vocalist had hope about the future state of the world. The vocalist was joined by a guitarist and a violinist.

The songs they played had a soft, sultry sound that blurred the lines between folk and soul. The band went off on a bossa nova tip for two songs. It was great to hear international music from a quiet, intimate band. All of the other bands I've seen at the Hookah Cafe were treated as background music, but the audience Tuesday night gave up much applause after each song.

Each band member was talented, and it was nice to hear a violin color a soul song, but the band's anchor was the vocalist. She had an amazing range. She elevated the songs from good to great. If she wanted good crowd response, she could just open the floodgates on her voice at the end of every song. She powered a nice version of "Killing Me Softly."

The band had been playing out on Royal street, so I was puzzled when they were flustered by sound problems. They should have gone acoustic. It's better if a band works out the kinks before or during the set. Don't keep an audience twiddling their thumbs if the sound isn't perfect.

The smooth music was enjoyable, and it went well with the cafe's atmosphere. Catch these guys for a mellow experience.

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