Read any three articles about Emiliana Torrini and you’re sure to find out at least one of the following. One, Torrini sang “Gollum’s Song” for the end credits of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Two, she write the song “Slow” for the `aging, yet still hot’ Aussie sex kitten Kylie Minogue. Three, she is Icelandic, but was born in Italy and spent summers in Germany. Four, her new album, unlike the trip hop excursion of her debut Love in the Time of Science, is compared most often to Nick Drake.
So, now that we have that out of the way, we can get on to discussing Fisherman’s Woman, Torrini’s sophomore effort. Although vocally not a far cry from her debut, gone are the electronics and processed beats in exchange for acoustic guitars, an occassional piano or quiet drum snare and an incredibly relaxed pastoral atmosphere. Indeed, those reviews that invoke the name Drake are accurate. Breathy, confessional and intimate, this album is like a female response to Five Leaves Left.
If reports are accurate that the album is essentially a letter written to a friend who’s passed, then songs like “Sunny Road” and “Life Saver” take on all new meanings. On the former, Torrini admits,
I never married
Never had those kids
I loved too many
Now Heaven’t closed its gates
I know I’m bad
To jump on you like this
Some things don’t change
My middle name’s still risk.
“Snow” begins as an acoustic version of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place” before heading back into the folky territory that the album is rooted in. Every song on the album is tinged with sorrow. Each finds the singer putting on a brave face and repeating that everything’s fine, when seemingly everything else seems to say otherwise. Even the lone cover song, “Next Time Around,” originally sung by Sandy Denny just after her departure from Fairport Convention, is bittersweet and longing.
Normally this type of album would be considered a relaxing Sunday morning affair, but instead, I think it’s a Friday at dusk kind of record. As you watch the sun set, you put on this album and think of old friends, those who you lost touch with, those who slipped through your fingers, and those who may have left our earthly plane. Torrini manages to conjure feelings of woe, sadness, regret and the joy of remembrance at one time with this collection of songs. Considering the direction of her last album, this was a daring attempt and one that soars successfully.