Emily Yacina spent the summer in Alaska, working for an environmental nonprofit. The experience seems to have influenced Heart Sky, the N.Y.C. college student's new surprise album of understated home recordings, in a couple of ways. The sound design — composed mainly of rickety percussion; heavy-lidded melodies; auxiliary ambient noise; and Yacina's beautiful voice, which is often doubled or tripled to mesmerizing effect — has a kind of pastoral curiosity to it. Listening feels like exploring a distant state on a sunny day.
But the Alaska trip also afforded Yacina time to think, an opportunity for self-reflection that manifests in the album's sad, frill-free poetry. "I got more sure/ As I biked through a green Alaska/ Feeling brand new," she sings on "Vision," her words delicately auto-tuned. Heart Sky's main narrative thread seems to be the disillusion of a once-happy relationship, but Yacina's fresh heartbreak never feels hopeless. "Are you good? Send a sign," she sings at one point, her songs a reminder that sometimes missing someone terribly is better than feeling nothing at all. Listen to the 11-track album in full, below.