Like the mythical song of the siren, something is entrancing, hypnotic and ultimately foreboding about Elaine Howley’s The Distance Between Heart And Mouth. Drawn closer by the serenity of Howley’s voice and textural flourishes, the record hides a jagged undercurrent that entangles the listener once the music takes hold.
Opening with the scene-setting ‘Silent Talk’, The Distance Between Heart And Mouth‘s deep sonic palette becomes apparent. Awash with textural scope, the backdrop plays into Howley’s beguiling vocal that seems to melt and meld with the ambience of the music itself. This haunting air runs right through the album, established and defined here by the contrast in tone.
Although The Distance Between Heart And Mouth is tempered by this atmosphere, Howley doesn’t rely solely on ambience to carry the record. Songs like ‘Autumn Speak’ move with frantic rhythm, punctuated by screeching guitar. Deeper still, ‘See Saw Seen’ works as a collage, cutting and abstracting sounds into one whole piece, while ‘Person Count’ takes shape via jolting electronic beats juxtaposing gentle harmony layering.
However, the serenity of ‘To The Test’ best encapsulates The Distance Between Heart And Mouth. Here Howley’s vocal takes centre stage. Softly delivered, her voice deftly tiptoes above a moving backdrop, conveying the contrasting elegance and edge of the album itself.
And so it goes, The Distance Between Heart And Mouth is an album put through the prism of mimesis. Like the aforementioned siren’s song, Elaine Howley’s debut bewitches the listener into swirling soundscapes, obscuring the jagged undercurrent with deft serenity. Existing on the periphery, the records’ sounds and textures feel expansive and lived-in, a real place built from the ground up.