EMILIANA TORRINI - Fisherman's Woman
[Rough Trade, www.roughtradeamerica.com]

[Epstein / Sanctuary Records, www.sanctuaryrecords.com]

Depression is a very serious, life-changing stage that personally I don't wish upon my worst enemies. There are too many records in this small world that make perfect soundtracks when you've hit rock bottom. When nothing makes sense any longer, these two new releases are sure fire hits for your down-in-the-dumps blues.

Half-Italian, half-Icelandic, Emiliana Torrini's second record is a folk-drowned, journey into deep melancholy. On second introspection, once you closely listen to the lyrics and themes, "Fisherman's Woman" turns out to be a very warm, hopeful record. From "Today Has Been OK" to "At Least It Was", large flickers of hope and love shine through. To be honest, it sounds as if Emiliana is a very positive person who just likes to surround her words with folk melodies. Simple guitar, piano, bass and percussion make for perfect scenery in which her lovely words bathe in. In terms of voice, she sounds like Stina Nordenstam with a punch in her vocal chords. In fact, Heidi Berry is the closest appropriation I can find to Emiliana's graceful vocals that just swoon and surround you with their warmth and sincerity. Though this is music that is as sad as sad can get, its' themes of hope, love and utter introspection make this a perfect album to put on when the world has turned its back on you.

The Blue Nile has never rushed into making a record. In fact, "High" is their first release in almost a decade, but as they say, it's not the quantity that counts, it's the quality. Luckily for us, The Blue Nile delivers that trait in generous amounts. Four records into their career, Paul Buchanan still sounds like his heart is being broken in a hundred places all at once. Evoking the ghosts of Motown, his bare but scorching delivery is unmistakable. Listen to how he bends the notes on "High" or how he screams with absolute despair on "Broken Loves". The sound still retains that slow tempo, lazy feel of previous releases. Buchanan's voice is at times bathed in a guitar and piano concoction that reaches its climax mid-way through a song and then falls into pieces. Without a doubt, "High" is mandatory listening for all those addicted to the form of a great song. It's absolutely compulsory for those who live with bitterness, introspection but still have hope.

- Tom Sekowski

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