by Paddy Kinsella
Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, follows Odysseus’ journey back home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy, his son, Telemachus, and his wife, Penelope, the symbolic gold at the end of the rainbow. One such trial he faces on this return journey is to not fall victim to the song of the sirens. A flowery meadow espouses from their heavenly voices, yet rags of skin still stuck to the mouldering skeletons of previously tricked sailors’ flap in the wind underneath them. While the rest of their crew had their ears filled with beeswax as they passed, Odysseus demanded to be lashed hand and foot against the housing of the mast, so he could hear their song. Wordlessly, he shouted against the tension of the gag tied around his mouth, demanding they sail of course into the sirens wake. Yet, as instructed, his men simply tightened his bounds, only delivering him from bondage once their voices had disappeared into the distance. If from another room you heard Talitha Ferri’s voice ascending into the smokey air, a similar restraint would be required to stop you from balling in, breaking the spell of those lost in its hypnotic cadence.
Ferri’s voice is a drawing etched on a misted window. Sufjan Stevens once sung the words, ‘My brother had a daughter / the beauty that she brings, illumination’. The simplicity of that image – the chasteness of it, its unblotched naivety – is all wound up in the Danish-American’s crystal clear vocal.
On debut album, Get Well Soon, it rides a tide of iridescent guitars and heart-pulling strings – that dependent on Ferri’s intonation, swoop or dive like a bird hunting its prey. As hinted by the title, the album is a gentle and earnest embodiment of what it means to get better, and every tender step it takes to get there. Like rain falling on bare skin, Ferri expresses her feelings so vividly that she gives legitimacy to your own, resulting in a two-way dialogue rather than the simple portrayal of one’s own experiences. Creating a space where others can enter on a level playing field and work through struggles of their own is not an easy craft to master, yet Ferri manages it with ease. ‘If the world’s getting heavy / the world is all mine,’ she assents on Talk, unknowingly describing how the record relieves you of a weight, however momentarily.
The template is largely the same across the record – Ferri’s voice mirroring the dejectedness of Phoebe Bridgers’, as it coalesces with threadbare guitar and strings. Tribute to Her, however, grants her momentarily reprieve from her cocoon, turning the view to the world outside as she hawks on a whore residing nearby. It’s the first and only time she stretches her jowls – her voice snapping in the chorus. Thanks A Lot for Everything also jaywalks. If the rest of the record was rooted in barren grass, this is a dandelion picked from the ground, its white fluff encouraged to break free, to dance gaily in the atmosphere. ‘Everything is easy now and everything is free’, exalts Ferri celebratory.
The album could do with more left turns in all honesty – the mould that makes for the rest of the record becoming well and truly tired on The Dust Collector. As debut records go, however, Get Well Soon is particularly spellbinding. Ferri’s voice matched with the unrepented honesty in which she relays the challenges that have halted her on her path make for a deadly duo. One so strong that it could help you make peace with your own. ‘I know that I’m small, but I could carry you for miles,’ she promises. She doesn’t falter.
Secret Meeting score: 80
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