Album Reviews

Emilíana Torrini – Miss Flower

(Groenland) UK release date: 21 June 2024

A story that could inspire a film, never mind an album, frames a welcome return for a voice that’s been very much missed

Emilíana Torrini - Miss Flower Emilíana Torrini‘s first album in a decade has quite the story behind it. A few years ago, the Icelandic musician visited one of her friends in the UK to support a friend whose mother had died. When Torrini was helping her friend sort out her late mother’s belongings, they stumbled across a box of letters.

That correspondence became the nucleus of Torrini’s much awaited seventh album, Miss Flower. It sketched out the life of Geraldine Flower, a woman who had received nine marriage proposals (none of which were accepted) and who had struck up an intense correspondence with a man named Reggie (who may, or may not have been a spy). For a storyteller like Torrini, this was manna from heaven, and each song on the album was inspired by a different letter. With the album being written in Miss Flower’s actual flat in London, it became an immersive experience for Torrini.

The story of Miss Flower is told by Torrini in a dreamy, quite beautiful fashion. The 10 tracks collected on the album are all downbeat, but never boring. Black Water opens the album and is immediately compelling – a dark, bassy synth burbling away underneath a spoken word verse by Torrini: “I encounter such a pleasant memory… you were easy to talk to and hard to forget.” It may be a rather facile comparison to mention Björk, but Torrini’s Icelandic accent can’t help but recall Ms Guðmundsdóttir – and it’s the sort of opening track that grabs the attention straight away.

Tracks like Waterhole have a slightly spooky trip-hop vibe, subtle beats and atmospheric synths with a nagging chorus that sees Torrini begging to “meet me at the waterhole… you really messed up”, while Let’s Keep Dancing feels touched by sunshine, with a light reggae beat: a male vocalist singing “I must be a fool to forgive what you did a long time ago, but that aside, still love you so” helps to build the mysterious myth of Miss Flower.

Musically, most tracks are in the synth-pop mould – Black Lion Lane could be her most poppy, accessible moment since Jungle Drum – but there are also elements of folk in the lovely, languid ballad Dreamers, and Love Poem even has an ambient tinge to it, a hypnotic keyboard line providing an atmospheric backdrop to some evocative lyrics. The best moment is left until very near the end, with the sad and dramatic The Golden Thread becoming one of the most poignant tracks – a missive from an admirer of Geraldine’s begging her not to marry another suitor.

The piano instrumental A Dream Through The Floorboards brings the album to a wistful close, and you’re left wanting to know more about the mysterious Geraldine Flower and the events that inspired this startlingly beautiful album. It feels like the sort of story that could inspire a film, never mind an album – and who knows, maybe that could be an idea for the future. For now though, this frames a welcome return for a voice that’s been very much missed over the last 10 years.

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More on Emilíana Torrini
Emilíana Torrini – Miss Flower
Emilíana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra: “The whole dynamic was about making connections and celebrating something we have together” – Interview
Emilíana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra – Racing The Storm
Ja Ja Ja Festival 2014 @ Great Hall, QMU, London
Emilíana Torrini @ Heaven, London