Emiliana Torrini

Fisherman's Woman

When you’re sitting alone in your room, drinking cheap box wine, reading Sylvia Plath, and considering your wrists and the nearby razor, you need a soundtrack. The musty mopery of Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan just won’t do anymore — you need something modern, something like Emiliana Torrini. Whereas the Icelandic-Italian singer’s 2000 debut, Love in the Time of Science, was similar to Björk’s thorny trip-hop, this follow-up is somber, rustic folk. The tunes feature the minutest of backings — just treated guitar pluckings and the occasional piano, melodica, and glockenspiel accent over which the operatically trained vocalist purrs out her vocals, coating each syllable with honey like an elfin Sandy Denny. Her subjects — an aging rebellette longing for kids, a wife yearning for her sea-faring man — are heavy with ennui and loss, chased by death and disappointment. But Torrini isn’t one to give in to misery. At one point, she whispers This life has been insane but today’s been okay, repeating the last three words over and over as if they comprised a mantra. Such determination serves her — and her melancholy listeners — well.

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