Erin Durant returns with her second album Islands, an odyssey of lyrically beautiful songs that will transport you into a dreamy haze where the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.
This record is a graceful step forward from Durant’s first self-recorded album, Blueberry Mountain (2016). Whilst still incorporating soothing stripped down arrangements; it feels like this record has taken all of the much-loved qualities of the debut but with added depth. Some may say this is due to Durant’s collaboration with Kyp Malone of the band TV On The Radio, but the results couldn’t be further from the dense rock tones Malone is used to delivering. Instead, Islands has a delicate expansiveness in sound, delivering clarity within mystery and adding a variety of instrumentation to the fold. Born and raised in New Orleans, Durant has been based in New York for over a decade composing most of her songs on the piano – which impressively she transports to most performances with her. Vocally similar to the likes of Joni Mitchell, and an early Dolly Parton with hints of Laura Marling, Durant has a clear but tender soprano tone. Whilst her music sounds gentle; lyrically her words detail the harder-hitting intricacies of life such as loneliness, heartbreak, and making mistakes. A personal favourite song of mine is the title track, Islands. It lures you in with optimistic tones but quietly details the conflicting process of attempting to find joy when all seems lost.
What I like about the album is that you know where you stand. All songs have a lovely familiarity. The delicate undercurrent and wavering vocals make this a pleasant record to listen to in full, especially on your morning or evening commute – I couldn’t believe how much an album could calm
my daily road rage.
Amongst such a consistent calming sound, you are occasionally picked up with a punchy brass section or jaunty groove, both especially notable in Highway Blue and Good Ol Night. This move seems to have been introduced via Durant’s collaboration with Malone, in which they’ve welcomed a complete rhythm section, the hum of a pedal steel and warm flourishes of brass and woodwinds.
Durant is an artist who knows what she wants to deliver and how she wants to deliver it – who else do you know that lugs a two hundred and thirty-two pound piano around with them? You can tell this album is another step towards Durant’s vision, with several of these songs hinting at the artistic direction she may be going down. I’m excited to see where this journey takes her.