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Emiliana Torrini's Most Accomplished Yet (4.5)
on 29 April 2005
Emiliana Torrini emerged around 1999, at least in the US and most of Europe, heralded as a voice belonging to Bjork's coven, a comparison I always found more related to their common homeland, Iceland, than a deeply strong sisterhood of sound.
Although 'Love In The Time Of Science" did bring to mind some of Bjork's occasional lullaby-like phrasings, and the album's arrangements did rely on subtle and timely Electronica, Torrini was already promising to be her own person, someone with something genuine and personal to say.
The thought that came to mind -please allow an unexpected metaphor here- is that the songs follow each other like geese migrating toward warmth, each of them distinct yet flying at the same altitude and with a common destination.
"Fisherman's Woman," her new album, is that promise fulfilled. Her voice, in this new album, is more confident, more decisive while never raising beyond a tender hush, a perfect tone to deliver lyrics that are at once revelatory, thoughtful and yet innocent and uncomplicated.
But don't let the sweetness of these tunes confuse you about the strength of their confessional power. Whether it is the short title song, the painful and beautiful "Today Has Been OK," or the gorgeous melody of the album's first single, "Sunnyroad," Emiliana weaves images into stories that you may feel she's only singing to you.
Equally worthy of recognition are the melodies and the band, particularly Dan Carey -who plays some unassumingly beautiful and intelligent guitar, as well as bass and pedal steel- and the subtle piano of Julian Joseph. This and the intimacy that Emiliana's voice is capable of, also shows decisively in "Snow," and "Lifesaver" with its bewitching cadence and the brilliant sample of the creaking wood of a boat swaying.
If you come to Torrini for the first time, I can't imagine you not finding enough to remain near, for repeated listenings. And if you were already touched by Emiliana's earlier releases, I predict that you will be elated with this album. She has become her own self yet more deeply, an old skin has shed and made space for a new one.
This is a brilliant album, confirming a voice and a sound that has much more offer to new singers than it owes to the ones that precede her.