Full of delicate vocals with dancing melodies, lots of piano and a grand parade of auxiliary instruments, Portrait takes you on a musical sight-seeing tour from the circus bazaar opener through to the understated finale.
1. Six Feet Under
If like me, you were expecting a macabre and solemn tale from the title then you couldn’t be more wrong. It sounds like the circus has come to town to throw a underground party in a crypt. With the old-time feel piano part and the sweeping violin giving a gypsy jazz vibe, the song combines a wide range of sounds in a slightly chaotic way, yet still managed to have a catchy chorus in the mix!
Vocally this track has wisps of Imogen Heap with flavours of Regina Spektor on the piano and in the voice too. Far more stripped back than the first track, but steadily building with percussion and a strong cello part, the vocals elegantly prance through the lower and upper registers of the spectrum. There’s some really nice lyrics in this track too:
“It’s only a landing light, and thought the moon had altered its course“
3. Little Bird
The use of toy piano sounds quite dream-like, or kind of children’s tv show theme-like, both evoking happy emotions. The song itself is a slalom of musical tonality, underpinned once again with the warm bass notes of the cello. Check out the official video for the track below and see what comes to mind!
Bat For Lashes meeting Muse and getting the blues, this song is passionate and sounds kind of bitter yet oddly uplifting. The prominent vocal opening the track is almost a cappella, bar various percussion and sparsely distributed samples, until the piano provides a more rigid structure, sitting underneath the rest of the song. Listen to the track on her soundcloud below.
5. Fight The Night
This song would fit in well in a musical I think. It has a sort of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables feeling. I can imagine somebody belting this out on X-Factor in a few years time. It’s delicate yet sure-footed, like a mountain goat.
6. Boy Who Cries for The World
Another quite theatrical song, underpinned with a warm chorus of brass. Lyrically it reminds me of Guy Garvey (Elbow) which is certainly a very good thing indeed! The
Lovely song, lovely lyrics, lovely stuff!
“You were the stillpoint of it all, a heavy kind of light, always looking down
Portraits, maps and bones, tracing paper layers
If you want to paint me, paint me alone
If you want me make me, make me from stone.”
An uplifting song (both in spirit and pitch), Rise is a get up and get out there kind of song: “You’d better find a life before living takes the life out of you“.
Have a little listen to the track below.
9. Nothing to Fear
Another stripped back piano ballad with a difference: Nothing to Fear swells up around the 3 minute into a warm mesh of wooshing vocals and fiddly instrumental parts.
10. Silent Night
Initially unsure if this was going to be a cover of the Christmas song, I can reveal ***SPOILER ALERT*** that it isn’t! Although, fragments of the initial melody do have some resemblance, but the song is far less cyclic than the Christmas favourite, developing the melody throughout until its gentle fade out into the distance as the album winds down