Erin Durant – Islands review

Secret Meeting score: 86

by Dave Bertram

Three years after her much acclaimed debut record, Blueberry Mountain, New York resident and New Orleans native, Erin Durant, is back with her second offering, Islands.

As the title track depicts, the eight tracks deliver stories of longing, loss, determination and the dreams of escapism that continually walk back and forth over the line between fiction and reality – backed by soft, blended arrangements of tinkled piano and folk-led acoustics.

But despite the thematic parallels that can be drawn from the first record, TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone has brought a new dimension out of her songwriting and created a resonant environment to encase her soft lyrics and instrumentation – a clear step away from the lo-fi, stripped down arrangements and four track tape recordings Durant created in her New York flat.

On Rising Sun, the wonderfully euphoric, piano fluttered intro makes way for a gentle acoustic, where from a woman exuding confidence in her approach to life and talking about how ‘making mistakes’ might be the ‘only way’, it crumbles as the track moves on as the weight of loneliness and loss feels like it gets a little bit too much.

These sharp emotive shifts appear a hallmark of Durant, and possibly none more so that on title track, Islands. From a confidently upbeat introduction, she delivers a musical and lyrical shift in the chorus and bemoans the loss of a lover and dreams of escaping, singing, ‘the islands are a calling / the islands are a calling.’

Detail is certainly not lost on Durant either. On the seven- minute epic, Good Ol’ Night, she keenly describes her emotional swing, from a ‘crystal chandelier is turned up bright’ to being ‘intensely lonely sleeping in the car.’ The dichotomy of her songwriting – from her tales of woe backed by at times, joyful arrangements – provides a wonderful contrast and eye into her psyche; she’s a songwriter who communicates deep feelings with a keen eye for detail, and with musical backdrops that suggest it provides a comfort blanket of blissful ignorance – a common trait among all of us.

One for times alone and personal reflection, her first record on new label, Keeled Scales, should build a platform for an exciting and successful career ahead. Islands is a place that’s an absolute pleasure to visit.

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