Elena Tonra, guitarist, vocalist and lyricist of Daughter, has released Ex:Re, her eponymously-titled debut album of her solo project, stepping away from Daughter for a moment.
Made with both a sense of urgency and for cathartic purposes, this record is both haunting and gritty, combining discordant strings, drums and her velvety vocals to create an atmospheric LP.
Tonra’s candid solo songs quite evidently document the end of her relationship and come across like observations, fragmented letters to herself. Cleverly titled Ex:Re, if reversed it would be Re:Ex, making the content of this record even more apparent. Romance epitomises the feeling of this record with lyrics such as, “with every stab and exhale, I promised myself that I would never lose my youthful fears.” Asking for the record to be pronounced X-ray highlights her introverted look inside herself , this album is ridden with acknowledgements and inspections of herself.
A year was required for the writing process for this record but the recording process lasted mere months, turning to Fabian Prynn (4AD’s in-house engineer and producer) and composer Josephine Stephenson on cello to make this album tangible, adding a more textural layering to the sound.
With many influences and head nods, I hear PJ Harvey, Jason Molina, and yet also Bjork, there is much to make this record an interesting listen. Elena’s vocals simply wash over you throughout this entire record, and she makes it intimate, with often piano, cello and drums being the only backdrop to her self-analysis. This makes her lyrics something you too confront and consider.
Where The Time Went is a fantastic opener for this record, establishing what we ought to expect from the rest of it with lyrics such as, “draw a line, they are not together…make me wonder where the time went.” Crushing is somewhat reminiscent of the music of Kate Stables and This Is The Kit, building to a crescendo, but with lyrics like “but it’s not like we were some dream combination.” Reflective and yet damning of the relationship, Elena certainly holds little back with this track. Similarly, New York takes a retrospective inspection at herself, “I’m hallucinating, I am seeing things I am missing, I went back to your street, I saw my friends in love have children.”
Quite clearly the album of someone experienced in the verse of album-making, compiling a narrative, littering their song-writing and vocal talent all over this introspection, Ex:Re is one of the finer releases of 2018. It does also, however, strike me as something intimate that she needs to release, get out of her system.