Emiliana Torrini has an almost 20-year-long career in music, but she rarely gets the respect that such a long career deserves. Hopefully with Tookah that will change, because over the last few years a lot of artists have tried to make a similar album, but none have done it quite so effectively.
This is a mood album, but unlike the recent influx of albums in this style that pick one mood and stick with it, Tookah is very hard to pin down; the music often counteracts what the lyrics are actually saying. Which is interesting, considering the album is very stripped back. The songs often include just a programmed beat, an additional instrument and her blissful voice double tracked, sounding like a mix of Joanna Newsom and Lykke Li. This helps create a very relaxed atmosphere that’s not quite ambient, not quite trance, but always comforting.
The album is anchored by her voice the entire time, until final track ‘When Fever Breaks’. Various percussion, keys, bass and guitar lines are all piled onto one another, successfully creating something out of a mess of nothing. Halfway through the song, Torrini finally begins to sing. In contrast with the restraint shown throughout the rest of the album, the broad sonic palette heard here is all the more effective as an album closer.
Torrini ends the album with the line, “I will kill you.” It’s completely unsettling, as it’s not cathartic; she sings it in the same relaxed tone she has all over the album. At this point, while you may not die, there’s a good chance you’ll be floored.
BY LEONARDO SILVESTRINI
Tookah is out now through Rough Trade/Remote Control.