In these days of instant gratification, streaming playlists, downloading individual tracks and shuffle players it is such a joy to come across an album that very definitely deserves to be listened to in its entirety, and sequentially starting with track 1. The songs do stand on their own and certainly suffer no significant loss by being listened to in isolation. A number of them also have very well produced and atmospheric videos to accompany them and a search on YouTube will result in a very pleasant viewing/listening experience. The title track opens the album, with a minimalist clock beat rhythm followed by beautifully enunciated naïve vocals that I found to be rather timeless, and had me recalling a number of bands that I had enjoyed listening to way back in the 1960s. The lyrics encourage the listener to put on a mask and explore – thus we begin our ‘parlour game’ that chronicles a journey of self discovery. Shortly the minimalist piano and cello opening develops depth as extra elements are added to the mix. “Don’t be afraid, put on your mask and let’s play.” The time signature of this has prompted me to pay more attention to other music that I listen to as it strikes me that this waltzing rhythm sounds so unusual – just how uncommon is 3/4 time?
The crystal clarity of Eleanore’s vocals is further showcased in track 2 where it is augmented with some powerful electric instrumentation – “there’s something here that yearns, and something more that drives”. Next, track 3 ushers in hints of middle eastern influences that are reminiscent of some of Natacha Atlas’ work;“wrapped in dark, I dream away.” Instrumentally this third inclusion takes the listener back to a more gentle piano and strings combination.
Track 4 is distinctly ‘Evanesence-esque’, and a bit darker, ”there are demons in your soul and they’re tearing you apart” – once again it features a multi-layered and powerful, heavy yet melodic, rock supporting instrumental foundation on which Eleanore’s exquisite voice builds and continues to amaze. The rock motifs are progressed with track 5 which reverts to a more reserved and thoughtful delivery; yet the hint of something more driven, bubbling away just below the surface, keeps letting its presence be known.
A short instrumental interlude echoing the opening track marks a distinct change in the album’s tone – “everything that lies ahead remains a mystery” – as the songs become distinctly less rock orientated, with echoes of Madonna circa ‘Erotica’, and Gwen Stefani becoming audible. This change offers a chance to fully appreciate the full range of Eleanore & the Lost’s skill and creativity, whilst the signature symphonic/operatic sound continues to provide the thread that unifies the wonderful collection of songs; “I am starting to believe, and I feel wonder filling all of me”.
The intelligent lyrics are beautifully nuanced, and effortlessly reflect Eleanore’s personal development and journey through life. ‘The Key’ is a lovely uplifting and inspirational anthemic prelude to the richly textured closing track. “Now I can see what you’ve hidden from me – I’m trapped in the beat, the music’s taken hold of all of me – I’m learning who I am, and she’s stronger than I’d guessed – strange how I thought that I knew you”. The more I listened to ‘Parlour Game’ the more I heard to intrigue and fascinate me; the broad variety of the songs is truly wonderful, Eleanore’s stunningly entrancing four octave voice, and its lack of fast paced tracks results in a rather uplifting yet relaxing listening experience.
Life seems to be full of coincidences; regarding this album, another one arose when I read the accompanying Press Kit. I am currently in training for the Brighton Marathon in April 2014 to help raise funds for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); I was pleased to discover that Eleanore was specially commissioned to compose the theme song for WWF’s 50th anniversary – the result piece being ‘A True Nature’ – off now to track that down.
1/ Parlour Game (La danza d’amore)
2/ The Calling
3/ Even More
6/ Interlude – La danza d’amore
7/ Hidden Wings
10/ The Key
Eleanore – all vocals on all tracks
Parlour Game / string arrangements – Eleanore and Adam Pain, drums & keyboard programming Adam Pain, strings -The Holywell String Quartet (Verity Evanson, Kathryn Riley, Gemma Sharples, Amantha Wijesekera)
The Calling / drum programming, keyboards & bass – Adam Pain, guitars – James Betteridge
Even More / all instruments – Adam Pain, bowed double bass samples provided by Nik P.
Demons / all instruments – Roger Davis
Everything / drum programming, keyboards & guitar – Adam Pain, additional guitar – James Betteridge
La Danza D’Amore Interlude / string arrangement & harp programming – Eleanore, strings – The Holywell String Quartet
Hidden Wings / all instruments & additional vocals – Adam Pain
Synthesized / all instruments – Roger Davis
Magical / all instruments – Roger Davis (originally inspired by ‘Barnes’ by c_housel
Strange / string arrangements – Eleanore & Adam Pain, drum programming, keyboards & synth bass – Adam Pain, guitars – James Betteridge
The Key / all instruments – Roger Davis