Emily Haines; & The Soft Skeleton – Knives Don’t Have Your Back

Maybe it’s broad nature of the material and the number of personnel involved in the other outfits concerned, Broken Social Scene and Metric. That often cloaks the personal and mundane, but commanding and trouble hued vocal stance of the genuine and sincere Emily Haines? It seems that The Soft Skeleton is the right base for the flesh of this authentic character to rest upon. The winding folk/blues ballad, ‘Doctor Blind’ uses a prominent string and piano element to coax along the pleading, but soulful pining. The boundaries between wistfulness and desperation become murky and blurred. ‘Crowd Surf Off A Cliff’, mixes the lush world inhabited by Emiliana Torrini with the enigma that is Kate Bush and even Tori Amos. Dark poetry creeps out of a slow noire, instrumental trickle.

Haines’ supple projection and weighty heart adds extra feeling and texture to the epic ‘Detective Daughter’, as the mood is slowly set to reflective mode.

“There’s a new crime; sexual suicide.”

This snappy lyrical snippet from the more colourful ‘The Lottery’, will make this heart tugging songstress, t-shirt slogan a compiler’s dream. Atmospheric piano elements seep through this fourteen track journey, like the smell of fresh bread into the cold air. It is patently obvious through tracks like the Nerina Pallot doused ‘The Maid Needs A Maid’ and the horn peppered, lounge lull out ‘Mostly Waving’ that Haines is relishing the chance to truly explore her range. Comparisons to Elliot Smith are bound to be drawn, but that misses the point somewhat, this is a singer who seems in control of her feelings and knows exactly how to project them. The eerie and theatrical, doom-depicting ‘The Last Page’ and the Aqualung element instilled into ‘Winning’, hold up a proud heart for all who desire to look into.

With commitments such as hers, Haines does an impeccable job of stopping and taking stock and the pressure on her time is only going to grow. This is, with the popularity that should follow this searching debut.


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