Skip to main content

Intense and emotionally raw

IAN SINCLAIR reviews new releases from Elena Tonra, Arve Henriksen and The Delines

Elena Tonra

“THIS album was made out of devastation,”says 28-year old Londoner Elena Tonra about her solo debut, an intense and emotionally raw break-up record.

Best known as the frontwoman of indie band Daughter, Tonra describes the songs — pained explorations of relationships, romance and sex, employing bleakly poetic imagery — as “long rambling notes to myself”.

“I miss him and I hate it” she laments on New York, a self-destructive tale about being “wine-wasted, shit-faced, solo” in the Big Apple. The dirge-like Too Sad finds the narrator “too sad to fuck.”

Seemingly a comment on men’s differing behaviour in private and public, pulsing single Romance describes a cold, uncomfortable sexual encounter: “This one thinks I’m a slaughterhouse” though “in the grand scheme of everything he’s probably called a nice man.”

“I thought of another the whole time”, Tonra confesses.


Arve Henriksen
The Height Of The Reeds
(Rune Grammofon)

COMMISSIONED for Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017, The Height Of The Reeds was originally a “soundwalk” that people listened to as they traversed the Humber Bridge.

The minimalist soundscapes — celebrations of the seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia — are composed by Norwegian experimental jazz trumpeter Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarsef (guitar and electronics) and Jan Bang (samples and programming).

Is it jazz? Barely. Rather, the record is an sublime collection of sounds and field recordings, creating a moody and haunting atmosphere all of its own.

Comprising Opera North’s choir and Henriksen’s contemplative playing, The Swans Bend Their Necks Backward To See God is reminiscent of John Surman’s 1999 Coruscating album, while closer Pink Cherry Trees is a work of extraordinary beauty.

Celestial and spacious, this is definitely one to listen to on headphones.

The Delines
The Imperial
(Decor Records)

SOON after Portland-based The Delines released their critically acclaimed 2014 debut album, disaster struck — lead singer Amy Boone was hit by a car while walking on the pavement.

Three years of treatment and rehab later and Boone and the band are back with another stellar set of sumptuous country soul songs.

With successful novelist and former Richmond Fontaine frontman Willy Vlautin penning all the lyrics, as well as playing guitar, fans will know what to expect — sympathetic and detailed portraits of working people who have lost their way.

Marriages break up, lovers go missing, dreams are crushed, mistakes are made. Told in Boone’s extraordinary voice and accompanied by touching horn arrangements, there is a conversational, intimate feel to the stories, as if the listener is privy to a private phone call or a regretful bar-room confession.

A masterclass in classic songwriting and musicianship.



We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 16,214
We need:£ 1,791
4 Days remaining
Donate today