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Album Review

The fourth long-player from mercurial Icelandic singer/songwriter Emiliana Torrini, arrives five years after 2008's well-received Me and Armini. The extended break afforded Torrini the time to tour, write, and become a parent, the latter of which casts a warm and wistful patina over the nine-track Tookah (a made up word that, according to its author, means "the inner good and bad balanced"). Collaborating once again with producer Dan Carey, who brought along a significant arsenal of vintage synths and analog equipment, Torrini follows no clear musical path on Tookah, yet it all feels effortless, nuanced, and connected. There's a vastness to songs like the breezy, almost tropical "Home," the lovely and evocative "Caterpillar," and the propulsive title track that suggests a sort of inner voyage, one that was charted using only emotional cartography and pure instinct. Even cuts that assume an icier, more melancholy timbre like "Blood Red" and "Elisabet," the latter a tribute to her Aunt, are brought back down to the warm earth by Torrini's delicate, idiosyncratic phrasing and empathetic lyrics. Tookah's finest moment arrives via the sleek and sexy "Speed of Dark," a swirling, dancefloor-ready, yet strobe-lite pop gem that occupies the middle ground between the provocative pulse of Elie Goulding and the artsy refinement of Kate Bush, but it's hardly the sole reason to give Tookah a chance. It’s Torrini's most insular yet assured collection of songs to date, as late album offerings like "Animal Games" and the epic, feral, and appropriately titled closer "When Fever Breaks" impress as well, skillfully rounding out a tastefully opulent set that fills the coffers yet never succumbs to avarice.

Biography

Born: 16 May 1977 in Reykjavik, Iceland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

An Icelandic singer/songwriter whose music embraces elements of folk, electronica, pop/rock, and trip-hop, Emiliana Torrini has earned favorable comparisons to such vocally gifted artists as Beth Hirsch, Kirsty Hawkshaw, and Björk. Torrini was raised in Kópavogur, where she worked at her father's Italian restaurant and attended opera school as a teenager. After releasing three albums in her native Iceland (Spoon, Crouçie D'où Là, and Merman), she joined forces with Tears for Fears' Roland Orzabal...
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Tookah, Emilíana Torrini
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