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Fisherman's Woman is a flat-out gorgeous album. It's delicate but assured, introspective yet not depressing, and oozes both innocence and maturity. The former has probably to do with Torrini's particular voice, which is situated between the girlish cuteness of The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler, the detached sexiness of The Cardigans' Nina Persson, and the otherworldliness of Björk. But it's so devoid of gimmicks and annoying tics that it sounds like I'm listening to an angel, or an instantly lovable older sister of Joanna Newsom. In other words, it's vaseline for the ears.

It's been many years since her debut Love in the Time of Science (which I haven't heard), but allegedly that was more of a bandwagon-jumper, cashing in on the triphop-craze which was still strong at the time. This album is - as stated on the website of this beautiful Icelandic with Italian roots - 'closer to Nick Drake and Jolie Holland than Portishead or Goldfrapp'.

The Nick Drake comparison certainly makes sense, as the album maintains its pastoral atmosphere for 40 minutes (although some people might call it monotony). With only one collaborator - multi-instrumentalist / producer Mr. Dan - Torrini glides through these songs with a fragile charm that's quite impressive.

Since her debut, Torrini's provided Kylie Minogue with a chart-topping hit ("Slow"), and contributed music to the Lord of the Rings project ("Gollum Song"), but Fisherman's Woman sounds as if she'd never left her barren island, as her vocals and stories, accompanied by acoustic guitar, accordion, or the sound of creaking boats (no joke! And it works!), seem to defy time and tradition.

Some songs are better than others. "Sunny Road" was made for chilly mornings in early spring; "Lifesaver" is a wonderfully entrancing sea-ballad; "Next Time Around" an irresistible slice of folk-pop; and "Heartstopper" is perhaps the album's most memorable song, and the best song The Sundays never recorded.

Maybe twelve songs is a bit much, mainly because the songs that end the album don't allow for a lot of sunlight (but hey, the album concerns love and loss). But if you can deal with Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, or Smog, there's no reason not to check out Emiliana Torrini's Fisherman's Woman.

by Reviewer: Guy Peters

Posted: Friday 31st Oct 2014 6:12 PM

Basically, this compilation consists of the album Message From the Country with five 1972 singles as bonus tracks (plus two hidden tracks, one a radio promo).

I've given this reissue an extra half star because the singles blow the album tracks away. Again divided equally between Lynne and Wood compositions, there are two worthless pieces of dreck - "Down On the Bay" and "California Man", both later covered by Cheap Trick.

I realize that The Move were Cheap Trick's second-biggest influence after the Fabs, but why did they have to cover the sucky Move songs? Granted, Trick's "California Man" is a dozen times better than the completely tepid Move original, but even improved by Cheap Trick, it still isn't very good.

The other three singles on the other hand are prime. "Tonight" and "Chinatown" are simply wonderful examples of Wood's pixie-esque popcraft, and Lynne's "Do Ya" is a Rock classic. There's the stupid ELO version of "Do Ya" of course, from which no one would ever guess how great a song it is - ELO replaced the crunching guitars and with violins! So if you thought Jeff Lynne only ruined other people's music, look at how he slaughtered his own song!

by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Posted: Friday 31st Oct 2014 10:23 PM