Music is an incredible thing. Listening to a song can evoke so many different emotions, feelings, can pull forward certain memories and even transport you to different places. I remember when my dad first introduced me to Guns N’ Roses. Ten-year-old me couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Although they aren’t to my taste nowadays, they kick-started my love affair with music.
The holidays came round and off we went to the Greek island of Corfu. I packed my CD walkman and my dad’s Use Your Illusion collection. I played them to death: sitting around the pool, down on the beach, when I should have been sleeping at night. Now, whenever I hear those albums, I’m instantly back on the beautiful island of Corfu and ten-years-old, having my mind blown open by Axl and the gang. It’s this feeling of transportation that is conjured up by Erin Durant’s fittingly titled new single, Islands, the title track from her forthcoming second album. Erin has penned a tale about globe-trotting, laced with imagery of serene settings and tantalising scenarios that truly make the listener long to travel.
A deep breath and we’re off, the journey of Islands begins. Erin’s soft, yet direct voice leads a charming sequence of piano chords through the soft, lullaby-esque verses. The melody is fresh but familiar, eliciting feelings of home. Comforting in their delivery, the words tell of Erin’s travels around the world. Take the second verse:
“So I’m drinking margaritas on a Saturday night. You’re looking real fine and you’re feeling alright. But my world came crashing down right as I got off the plane. When a phone call came in and this is what they said. You’ve got to go home.”
The setup paints a picture of Erin enjoying the finer things in life before being brought back down to Earth. She can travel to the places she wants and enjoy the relaxing things that the world has to offer, but life at home continues and pulls her back in the midst of her splendour.
The music fits the story perfectly. Voice and piano are all we hear through the verses and, as I mentioned earlier, these are delivered with real beauty and grace. They are the antithesis of harsh; calm and composed, keeping the focus of the listener on the lyrics and the soothing melodies. The chorus introduces the soft brushing of drums, if only to liven things up and separate it from the verse. Delicately played, this is the third and final element introduced. Voice, piano and drums. Simplicity at its finest. The vocal delivery in the chorus tends towards country, with a jaunty melody reminiscent of Dolly Parton.
Prog in length, pop in structure. This is somehow both the record’s strongest tool and its biggest detriment. Its simplicity keeps the song from exploring further than its verse/chorus back and forth, giving Erin ample time to deliver her story, but clocking in at six and a half minutes, things start to feel repetitive. It’s a brave move for a track of this style; a poppy, country-tinged piece. I can’t help but feel that the listener might trail off after hearing the chorus repeated many times throughout. It is, however, a truly memorable chorus, one that I’ve struggled to get out of my head the past few days. It does make me think of something that would be sung to a small child to calm its nerves in the midst of a thunderstorm.
Islands is a really enjoyable piece of music: relaxing, joyful, beautifully delivered and highly memorable. It’s an interesting choice for a single, one that speaks for Erin Durant’s confidence in her music. The story isn’t exactly a thrill ride, but it paints alluring images of travel and emotion, casting Erin as the narrator through this gentle tale. By the close, it may begin to outstay its welcome, but its downfalls can be forgiven and overlooked for conveying the imagery that it does.