Free and legal MP3: Emiliana Torrini

Icelandic style-shifter with dub-inflected pop

“Me and Armini” – Emiliana Torrini

Iceland’s Emiliana Torrini is a musical vagabond of sorts, having wandered over the years through a wide range of sonic settings. Trained in opera as a teenager, Torrini’s international debut CD, 1999’s Love in the Time of Science, introduced her as a trip-hop diva, with excursions into electronica and synthesizer pop, while her next release, Fisherman’s Woman (2005), was all intimate and folk-jazz guitary. In between she gained a bit of fame for singing “Gollum’s Song,” the end theme for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, a predictably windswept and string-strewn affair. Her new CD shows off any number of additional styles, as clearly suggested by the dub-inflected title track.

Despite the reggae beat, “Me and Armini” is appealing, to me, precisely because it’s not really a reggae song at all. I’m no purist; I have no issues when musicians borrow sounds and vibes from wherever they find inspiration. In the end, if the song works in the moment as a listening experience, regardless of how it satisfies expectations and musical “rules,” then all is well. On “Me and Armini,” all is very well indeed. In and around the slinky rhythm and electro-dub effects, Torrini has crafted a cool and affecting song, propelled by a sneaky melody that owes more to plain old rock’n’roll than its sly trappings may lead you to believe. The way the music and the lyrics in the chorus break in different places (the musical line keeps stopping after the phrase “that I’m”) is a particular point of pleasure here.

“Me and Armini” is the title track to an album released last week on Rough Trade Records. MP3 courtesy of the Beggars Group.

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