Faith Eliott: Impossible Bodies (OK Pal) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020  

Faith Eliott

Impossible Bodies

OK Pal

Jul 02, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Faith Eliott has always been comfortable around academia. Their parents are historians, their childhood was spent surrounded by dusty books and museum artefacts, learning and the high arts. It is with no surprise that their first album, then, should take on the structure of a medieval bestiary, those threadbound illustrated compendiums of mythical beasts. Each song on Impossible Bodies acts as a page in a bestiary, representing or being represented by a different creature, embodying some parabolic metaphor of our time.

While this conceit could have played out as tired or cemented, it in fact is animated by Eliott's desire to find the contemporary, or perhaps the eternal, in these long-established tropes. Far from buried in antiquity, Eliott infuses these tracks with an acute sense of concern for the world in which they live. "Lilith" is the most on point in this regard; "You and I both know that boredom is the true original sin," she opines, a statement with a wisdom that echoes through time, but she has more: "Until the ozone falls away like a sheet of cellophane/On fire the oceans boil over and the planet expires." Indeed, Eliott's lyrical reference points offer moments throughout the album that are surprisingly colloquial and endearingly real-world, a further layer of paradox to this most intriguing of emerging singer/songwriters.

Eliott, who uses they/them pronouns, grew up in Minneapolis, before relocating to Scotland aged 13. This debut album has been a long time coming, following the relative breakthrough of her EP Insects in 2016. The final product is a model of maturity, both in writing and arrangement. Tastefully understated strings adorn tracks like "Jungftak," whilst standout number "Grouper" features the sound of the wind whistling through its remote, pre-electric musical mise-en-scene, a world that verily leaps out of the pages of its well-thumbed mythological and pagan histories. This is folk music, but in a sense of the phrase that is much more academically sound than its usual usage these days.

Closing track "Black Rabbit," in an album of echoes and restraint, of solitary voices and uncommon viewpoints, offers a single moment of chaos, its arrangement frilling and fraying at the edges until catalysing into something of a small eruption. It points to where many of Eliott's contemporaries would naturally have headed, but that Eliott chose here to minimize this disarray is testament to their confidence. The moment in question, sure enough, is soon drawn back and taken under control once more. If this is a debut statement, then Faith Eliott may be a major new voice in independent folk music. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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