It's not hard for your brain to conjure up images of foreboding ghosts, empty fields and dark corners with Emily Haines' new album, Knives Don't Have Your Back. While many people may be familiar with her typical upbeat dance driven songs created with Metric and/or Broken Social Scene in the past, her newest venture couldn't be farther from that. It is with a childlike vision and a four-year labor of love process that Emily has crafted a beautiful standout folk album.
The album opens up with the ballad "Our Hell," a mid tempo song about dealing with the death of her father, poet Paul Haines, but vague enough that it could be about any hell at all. During the chorus the vocal treatment has an uncanny resemblance to some of John Lennon's solo work. One thing is for certain; she still knows how to command attention and guide the listener with her smooth, sultry vocals. Case in point is with the Kristin Hersh/Kate Bush inspired "Crowd Surf Off A Cliff." Introspective lyrics and the soft piano make it to where you can actually taste the seawater crashing off the rocks below the cliff you are standing on. The album does still showcase the quirky side of Emily as well, it's just a little more hidden than in the past. On "The Maid Needs A Maid," the opening lyrics state "Bros before hos/disagree on the sidelines." Seriously, anyone that can use both bros and hos in their song gets major props, especially when they make it sound so pretty. It's hard to not mention every single song on this LP. "The Last Page," a gorgeous drifting lullaby was my first favorite, but then there is "The Lottery," a song that channels topics that Metric would cover: feminism and society standards.
Obviously, Emily deserves most of the credit with Knives Don't Have Your Back, but its impossible to ignore the fact that The Soft Skeleton, her band assembled for this release, must have had some impact on her work as well. I'm looking in the direct direction of Scott Minor from Sparklehorse when I say this. (She also puts BSS' Justin Peroff, Metric's Jimmy Shaw and Stars' Evan Cranley to use.) While it might have been hard to pinpoint exactly how each track stands out from the next, what is important to notice is that Emily shows the world that she is so much more than just a pretty face and one trick pony with this record. If you are looking for a meaningful and angelic collection of songs then rush out and get Knives Don't Have Your Back today. After spending some time with this album I can honestly say that while knives may not have your back, Emily Haines does.
"Doctor Blind" MP3