Opening track, Head Above Water, clocks in at less than a minute and yet perfectly illustrates some terrific vocal control from Elina Laivera. The delicate vocals (barely-above-a-whisper utterances into which notes have been carefully placed) speak volumes about the artist’s care and attention to detail.
The title track introduces production chops aplenty, with detuned vocals creating close harmony with an impassioned lead vocal: ‘loving you feels like alchemy’. And it would be the easiest thing in the world to talk about the transformative nature of music and that perhaps being the focus of Elina Laivera across the 9 tracks on this album. But that won’t explain or give colour to the dynamic elasticity of the vocals on Alchemy (the track). Seemingly effortlessly leaping up and down octaves while picking out very intricate melodic structures, it’s an extremely impressive display of vocal prowess, whichever way you come at it.
The backing tracks are interesting, too. Tinkling, icy synths rub along with warm pads, white noise sweeps, Rhodes, 808, intricately-weaved backing vocals… Rich and satisfying in equal measure and yet not over-egged, the collection is very well judged. Treated guitars make more of a mark as the collection progresses.
The detuned back-up vocals continue to feature across the tracks of Alchemy, and so too does the scope and vision of the project. The vocal runs and control remain impressive throughout and Elina’s delicacy and deftness of touch find windows amongst the slickly-produced, lush backdrops to shine out.
Her vocals aren’t limited to wistful or whimsical, however – she can put some stank on it when she chooses, and it’s invigorating indeed when she really lets rip.
The word here is impressive, with Elina amply displaying some fine contemporary nous and songwriting, with Beyonce levels of vocal control and with something of a signature sound, too.