by Philip Moss
Tori Zietsch makes an instant connection on her debut album – filled with heart, it is one to hold close
The opening 61 seconds of As Tradition – the first song on Maple Glider’s To Enjoy Is The Only Thing is tailor made for the credits of a Scandinavian crime drama. Imagine the scene: as the camera pans slowly over a steaming fjord – grey and filmic – it tracks slowly into town through quiet, almost deserted midnight streets. Despite the introduction of a swelling arrangement, Tori Zietsch’s striking voice remains the focal point of the soundtrack. Cold, focused – ‘love is just a word… don’t say that you mean it / c’mon, babe – we both know that is absurd when you love me like this’ – she takes a hold before the narrative even begins.
Debut albums are strange things. Out of nowhere, a songwriter’s troubles, woes, strifes, lost loves – the plot of their life! – is laid out to strangers. But Zietsch’s writing makes an instant connection. The story is not so immediately important, as the melody, mood, and atmosphere are enough of a hook. On Swimming, Zietsch edges closer to the microphone – and her voice, like a lone lamp in the corner of a room – takes hold of the arrangement; a case in point throughout the LP.
To Enjoy Is The Only Thing is beautifully produced – and the trust placed in Tom Lansek to help bring her home recordings to a place that felt complete has clearly worked. Friend skips along with gentle drums backing up her most immediate melody on the album. But, when the moment is right, songs such as View From This Side are left in a demo like state that shows just how strong the heart of Zietsch’s songwriting is. Before the record reaches its climax in a musical and emotional correlation on Good Thing. It’s a balance of momentary defeat and independence. Taking control, although it may not feel like the right option in the instance – the focus is placed firmly on the long term benefits to the self – ‘I’d rather kill a good thing than let it die.’
A special record that opens with darkness, To Enjoy Is The Only Thing is a debut full of heart – and with the camera solely focused on Tori Zietsch, the amount of self that she has poured in means it is one that has to be held close.
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