There’s a certain intangible class to quality female voices that is hard to pin down. The age of steaming has made it easier than ever to upload music to the internet, so it’s always incredibly impressive when a promising vocalist shines through the ordinary to announce themselves as extraordinary. All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend is the debut LP from Norwegian singer-songwriter AURORA, and with its release the 19-year old has rightly announced herself.
For those who haven’t heard AURORA before, you’ll inevitably find yourself hearing a certain familiarity in the vocal quality of the several of the songs on the album. It could be a turn of phrase, a way of hitting a certain pitch, a quality to the way that she sings a specific line or perhaps even the way a word is accented.
The most immediately striking aspect of her vocal ability lies in the demanding practice of bouncing between lower and much higher octaves and pitches, while still staying perfectly in tune. This is something that Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES does exceptionally well, and there are some very distinct similarities in the vocals of these two singers.
The opening track Runaway is one example of using pitch and register in such a way, but a better one is Running With Wolves. During its verse AURORA manages to strike emphasis on particular lyrics within a phrase, often by singing a particular word in what is almost a completely different register to the rest of the line.
Although much of the production on the album is accompaniment-minded and designed with the obvious intent to sit beneath AURORA’s outstanding vocals, there is also some excellent variation created in a few of the more up-tempo tracks. These are generally filled with various synthetic sounds and percussion that challenge her to respond with stronger and punchier phrasing. Conqueror is once such track that, especially in the chorus, has a grungy vibe that will perhaps remind those listening of singer Grimes. Warrior is another that shows off AURORA’s ability to hit notes with more robust dynamic levels, and this is a challenge that she rises to while typically staying in her true and in-tune pitch.
It’s not uncommon for a debut album from a relatively inexperienced artist to sound like a group of songs bunched together for the sake of length for an LP. All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend is definitely not in such a category, with each song contributing to a deeply captivating narrative that goes from the breezy and optimistic Conqueror, to the self-reflective and redemption-seeking I Went Too Far to the intense and dark Murder Song. The concluding Black Water Lillies brings us back to a hopeful atmosphere through its use of positive major cadences.
Although AURORA’s singing style undoubtedly holds similarities to various other successful artists, it would be unfair to paint her as someone that is simply reminiscent of already existing singers. All My Demons Greeting Me has so much depth, and its narrative is deeply entrancing and reflective, almost betraying her youth. Her ability as a singer is demonstrated in her ability to make her voice the one unmissable feature in songs that range from soft piano ballads to synth-pop jams.
All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend is out on Friday, 11th March 2016. Order a copy, here.
Watch: AURORA – Running With The Wolves