Emiliana Torrini's time has come. Torrini's newest album Me and Armini (release date September 9th) blends delicate genres into what will surely be saluted as one of the best albums of the year. Though her first two mainstream albums, Love in the Time of Science and Fisherman's Woman, were excellently crafted, by comparison they exhibit caution within the bounds of trip-hop and acoustic indie crooning, respectively. Drawing the best elements from her forays into these genres, and adding others, Me and Armini explodes in a sophisticated menagerie that solidifies what has clearly become Torrini's definitive style.
With a range reminiscent of reggae on the title track, and 90's grunge rock on the smoky track "Gun," the interplay of influences is a perfectly fused substrate from which each song pulls a predominant sound to highlight. Aiming at honesty strings, horns, and heavy rhythms were left off previous albums producing a spare style that while talented, had not yet reached full potential. Me and Armini welcomes soaring crescendos and melancholic base lines, weaving in drama but stopping just short of dramatic. Torrini sacrifices none of the subtlety of earlier albums as she ekes the most from every note, delivering a more full and accessible experience. It is music for driving with the windows open, or a lullaby before sleep. It is a study in exuberant deliberateness and punchy breaths.
Torrini's voice is sweetly childlike and sultry in turns, and its power is never compromised even when she whispers. Adopting a slight trill on the violin ballad "Bleeder," or petulantly teasing on the breathy "Ha Ha," her vocals are deeply catchy though never predictable.
Musician and poet blend seamlessly in each song. There is no chicken or egg question, the lyrics and melodies seem to have sprung simultaneously from the clear intuition of Torrini and close collaborator and producer, Dan Carey. Each word fits snugly against its assigned note. The lyrics deal with deep emotion but from a platform of slightly aloof observation. Potentially heavy images turn light; when she says that she has "an old beggar's prayer on the tip of my tongue" her delivery sounds almost as if she is looking back over her shoulder with a grin as she skips away. She successfully pulls off introspection without the malaise of dreary ennui or egoism that plagues so many of her contemporaries.
This album seems to draw less from intimate life experience as Fisherman's Woman did, influenced by her boyfriend's death; Me and Armini resounds as a fully rounded statement of Torrini's musical vision. Enlisting sounds from all over the map she blends her own in an effortless layering. Though one could say that the song "Tick Tock" sounds akin to Air's electro-pop wanderings, the description falls short as Torrini has moved beyond comparison, creating a style that can only be referenced to herself. The brilliant Me and Armini ensures that no longer will anyone say "Emiliana Torrini sounds like so and so"…it will now be "so and so sounds like Emiliana Torrini."