Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton
Knives Don't Have Your Back
Last Gang Records 10.07.06 by Eric Nielsen
Canadian, Emily Haines says that since she was young she's always written these simple songs driven by the piano, played with the mute pedal on. You can hear the piano move these soft pieces, laying out the pallete for her sweet, thoughtfulness.
Her voice is really pleasant and has a nice warm, rich and low range that makes it very intimate. Along with a sure, confident, higher range that moves around the piano with ease.
Most pieces start off with a simple piano line, leading the voice through a melody that closely follows the piano line and adds the instrumentation as the song builds. Structures are buoyed by string arrangements and affected guitars in a most delicate way. The pieces drift by as the sun crosses the sky, in an almost imperceptible way.
You can hear archetypes of other things throughout; Tori Amos, Liz Phair and some Beatles movements/sounds. The instrumentation and the arrangements are almost whimsical, sweet and delicious, very morning friendly.
For most of the songs there is only piano and voice, adding to that feeling of familiarity and of being in the same room with the artist. The closeness is conveyed through the soft singing, almost whispering that she uses throughout the disc.
Mostly Waving has a kind of Portishead vibe with sweet horns and a voice that sits right in the pocket as it moans and shimmers. This track stands out on the disc as being more fleshed out orchestrally and has a piano line that bounces, leading the way as the voice sits tight and the drums keep moving in the back of the mix.
All of the instruments are treated with a soft brush so that they fit in without anything popping out at you. Everything seems nearly perfect in this otherworld that Haines creates. There is a slight whisper of danger in the background that never ferments; it gets close and then the song ends, and another sweet piano line opens the next piece.
The solemn melancholy of the lyrics and voice strike a nice balance with the always elegant piano lines. Put this album on in the morning, on the way to work or over your first cup and have a listen.
Emily also fronts Metric (who have opened for the Rolling Stones and also release their records on Last Gang) and has contributed to the Broken Social Scene.
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