The Queen of British electropop, with roots in folk and having recently conquered a legion of fans in America, Ellie Goulding is an artist with many strings to her.... guitar? With a voice that ranges from a huskier, harsher timbre to sweeter, softer high notes that imbue her songs with emotional pull, she serenaded her listeners with her debut album Lights.
Now she's back with Halcyon, a sophomore effort that manages to mix being even more uplifiting with darker notes, as befits the bass heavy electronic musical world of 2012, but without resorting to what is described by internet keyboard fiddlers as Brostep, instead forging ahead with a musical style you could describe as Romeo & Juliet in Space, or perhaps under the sea, given that the theme of water
flows (please excuse the awful pun) throughout this album, which culminates
in the track under scrutiny this week, closer Dead In The Water.
The original Halcyon myth, written by an unknown Greek writer told of a woman committing suicide whilst mourning her dead husband and being transferred into a bird, forever searching in sorrow, and Dead In The Water draws on this story, creating an epic end to a fantastic album that tugs at your emotional heartstrings. Beginning oh so softly on a low, longing organ chord, Goulding's voice pierces the tension with the words " If I was not myself, and you were someone else, I'd say so much to you, " setting the tone of the piece.
The simplicity of the first half of the song, using the organ as a bed, whilst the strings rise up to cocoon the vocals, before breaking down halfway through into aahs that build into a triumphant finish, with tinkling synth keys that gently engulf the song, before leading to a trance like, euphoric finish that fades gently into silence. Thanks not just to the luscious vocals that need none of the autotune that rubbishes some pop ballads, but elegant instrumentation that proves conclusively that you don't need beats, wub wub basslines and garbled rapping to write quality electronic music.
As the song moves from life to death, with a clever switch in the lyrics that develops the story through a change from " I'm there in the water " to " I'm dead in the water " post breakdown, it brings the album to a close in real style.
Have a listen to Dead In The Water by clicking here!