To many people, I’ve become a subtle symbol of grief over the years. Clad in all black and never giving more than a pitifully vague answer about my personal life, I’m sure I’ve turned heads. The positive side to this is I can help people who go through emotionally rotten times. This manifests in many ways; being the solid, dependable advice-giver, the one who can be called at three in the morning when everything is too bleak, and the shoulder to cry on, literally. Of course, over time, this means I’ve also given my fair share of music recommendations for comfort. Music is a form of solace.
As a listener, I’m always looking for the kind that exudes an air of consolation without being cloying. One that creates a headspace indulged in just enough escapism to allow one the salve of catharsis. Daughter’s EP, His Young Heart, provides just that; a cornerstone of commiseration in a world that’s less than kind. Elena Tonra, lead singer and songwriter is noted for her musical involvement in the indie game Life is Strange and the subtle, dolor-filled feeling it evokes
This EP, while just as atmospheric, is a masterful work in brevity. His Young Heart consists only of four songs, each more miserable than the next.“Landfill,” the most popular song from the EP, is a work of harsh juxtaposition. Love told as a series of violent, cruel twists in which everything is an act of brutality. “Push me out to sea, on a little boat that you made/Out of the evergreen you helped your father cut away,” Tonra croons breathily. “Leave me on the tracks/Wait until the morning train arrives/Don’t you dare look back. Walk away, catch up with the sunrise.” Her voice lends a depth to these songs the way a prophet might divine emotion, a siren luring listeners to the watery lair of their shared despair.
(Source: Emma Swann)
“The Woods,” is evocative of natural images of erratic sorrow. A younger sister, but not the narrator’s, running off into the woods. In fairy tales we often find characters who run to the woods as a source of reprieve or escape. Lyrics such as “we are what we are/don’t need no excuses/for the scars from our mothers” and “we know what we know/cause we’re made of all the little bones of our father” remind us that not all pain is from the source of a romantic love. “Candles” is a daunting narrative about growing up and realizing who you are. As each chorus passes, round robins of lament, “blow out all the candles,” is repeated, wispy and frail, interspersed with “you’re too old to be so shy.” The language here is enough to remind any listener that the trauma of growing up is enough in itself is poison ones adulthood. The simple act of time passing and loving the wrong people makes phrases such as “I bite my tongue and I torch my dreams/have a little voice to speak with/and a mind of thoughts and secrecy/things cannot be reversed/we learn from the times we are cursed,” seem perfectly reasonable in its description of what it means to feel wrought by pangs of adolescence.
The last track, “Switzerland,” is almost entirely instrumental. As per the first three tracks, there’s the same hazy, unsettling tune to each song, but it really shines here. Rather than feeling like a cheat or something slapped on to make the EP rounded out, it perfectly fits the narrative. Using the same sparseness as an Emily Dickinson poem, it’s not hard to hear what’s going on between the seven or so words repeated on the track at all. And when she sings,
And I …
And I, and you…
And you, let it go …
And I, let it go …
The weight of the tumultuous three tracks comes crashing down into empathy, realization, and acceptance. The silences on this EP are as integral as they are present, much like Dickinson’s, here:
I could not bear to live – aloud
The Racket shamed me so
And if it had not been so far
And anyone I knew Were going-I had often thought
How noteless – I could die.
These spaces occur not as a break, but as an interval where words aren’t necessary, an intense black-out period for heartache. That’s how they work for Daughter too. And while most of their lyrical content does deal with the more amorous connotations of agony, which can often feel cliché and overplayed, it’s always refreshing to hear about it in context with other anxieties. Other various relations and ailments work strongly here, blending together in a hard-hitting litany of melancholia. The tone of this record is clear. No blurb needs to try and gloss over its meaning as sentimental or introspective. This is music for introspection that turns into full-blown mourning and nostalgic longing into sorrow. The type of love nor the type of wound seldom matters. Tonra’s voice transports listeners to a quintessentially feminine form of elegy. One that imbues the same quiet wisdom of Millais’ Ophelia to Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott,” and says in grief, we as listeners are all metaphysically a woman weeping.