Swedish couple Ellekari Larsson (vocals/piano/organs/trumpet/synth) and Leo Svensson (cello/musical saw/glockenspiel) met in Stockholm and fell in love, forming The Tiny a mere 6 months later. A few years on, they are about to release their third album, ‘Gravity & Grace,’ in the UK. When I first received the album to review, I thought that Ellekari’s distinctive voice would grate on me after a few songs. Instead, throughout the album her vocals flit back and forth from sweet and delicate to raw, emotional and heartbreaking. As saxophonist Mats Gustafsson says, the album “crawls under skin, into bone and turns your soul inside out,” and it’s this raw emotion and power that makes this album stand out.
The album opens with single ‘Last Weekend’ (watch the video below), a song with tortured-sounding vocals, contrasting the joy of going to a friend’s wedding the previous weekend with the fear of losing someone. Ellekari sings “My friend got married last weekend and I was there to witness as he filled his life with love / and everyone around him was dancing, laughing, getting drunk on champagne / and there was I, feeling lonely by your side / for you not being able to promise me a lifetime of being true.”
The next track, ‘Burn,’ has a significantly lighter feel with Larsson doing many strange, interesting things with her voice. Her vocals are especially fascinating in the chorus, where she sings “Burn, burn it to the ground / and leave it all behind / throw that burden to the ground / strike a match and burn.” Her voice reminds me of a combination of Lykke Li and Bjork, though it has more character and depth than Lykke Li’s and is a bit more tame than Bjork’s.
Another highlight of the album is ‘Ten Years,’ a song urging a friend to forget about the man she’s been chasing for 10 years and to move on with her life, singing “You can do more with life than he will ever know.” The song is powerful and defiant, yet simple, with just vocals and staccato piano, plus strings in the chorus. The real gem on this album, though, is ‘The Man Who Ran,’ a haunting track of plucked cello and soaring vocals with mindblowingly good lyrics like “what if gravity is just another trick of the mind / hold on, hold on / if the trouble you see is nothing but imaginary tethers.”
While at first listen the most noticeable thing about this album is the striking and unique vocals of Larsson, the profound and deeply personal quality of the lyrics ensure you’ll get something new out of it each time you listen. It may take some time to grow on you, but once you spend some time with ‘Gravity and Grace’ I’m sure it will become an integral part of your music collection.
‘Gravity & Grace’ will be released on 12th April 2010. The Tiny will be performing two shows in London: 4th March at Union Chapel and 3rd May at the Borderline.A free mp3 of single ‘Last Weekend’ is available through their website.