The Halifax synthpop star’s September 22nd set almost drifted by peacefully — that is, until her last song began to play.
The unreleased track is called I Can’t Get Out of Bed, and it is anything but sleepy. Its coda sees Adelle Elwood – otherwise known as Keeper E. – trading in her lilting alto for a blood-curdling scream, and it spurred the Wardroom crowd into a spontaneous dance party.
Performances like these make Keeper E. worth checking out in person. “It’s always different to hear someone live,” Elwood said. “I think that it’s just a really special moment for everybody.”
Keeper E. didn’t perform alone. Percussionist Clare Macdonald beefed up Elwood’s complex programmed beats with thunderous live drums — Elwood said drums are her “favourite instrument of all time.” She was also accompanied by accomplished Nova Scotian pop singer Izra Fitch, who contributed some additional vocals and choreography.
The dances she and Elwood performed together underpinned the entire set. As the pair reached a chorus, their outstretched arms would meet in brief synchronized motion, highlighting an important lyric or shimmering synth line. They even taught the crowd a short routine that accompanied big Keeper E. hit This Is Like Everything, which you can see play out in all its glory at @songsbykeeper on TikTok.
The climatic I Can’t Get Out of Bed was a collaboration with Halifax producer Waants, which marks a departure from Elwood’s usual process. She normally handles all the writing, recording, producing and engineering on her work. “I used to really like to have complete control over things,” she said, “I still do, but now I like to work with other people more. It’s good to hear what other people think.”
The song fits neatly into Elwood’s award-winning and rapidly growing catalogue. The Mount Allison grad’s sophomore album, Thank U and Please and Don’t Go came out this spring, and it’s already a nominee for Nova Scotia Music Week’s New Artist Recording of the Year award.
It’s clear that Elwood sinks a ton of time and effort into her work. After the show, the band fielded the lengthy line of students clamouring for a t-shirt or lyric booklet themselves. These booklets are hand-written and hand-sewn by Elwood, and each one contains a copy of her prized cake recipe. You can buy one yourself at her Nova Scotia Music Week performance on November 3rd in Sydney.
I Can Do It
This Is Like Everything
What If We Lose Everything
Telling The Truth
I’m Sorry to My Spider Plant
Wearing Out My Lungs
Leaf In A River
Please Don’t Tell Me
I Don’t Wanna Talk
I Can’t Get Out Of Bed (Unreleased)