Born in Devon but now living in London is exquisite singer/ songwriter Helene Greenwood. Back in 2013 Greenwood hit the scene with the delectable The Break EP then later that year saw the release of debut album Collectable You which featured 11 sumptuous tracks. Now this LP featured the likes of Break In Break Out and After The Fire, both of which appeared on the debut EP earlier on in the year.
Three years later Helene is back with her sophomore Exquisitely Hopeless. Still on the same label Washaway Records this record again featured 11 sparkling numbers each left me completely transfixed. Exquisitely Hopeless was recorded over a process of two years, travelling to a dusty studio in Richmond. It forms a journey which starts inside from an intimate domesticated space, singing from inside a crystal vase and then travels out.
Exquisitely Hopeless is Helene’s first concept album. Set across one day it follows the story of one woman who lives in a confined domestic world and wonders what it would be like to live a freer life outside of her house. “As a mother I have challenges looking after my family and use songs as a form of therapy to move beyond my own reality”explains Greenwood, who took inspiration for her character from the sci-fi film, Under The Skin, with some of the lyrics taken from the book by Michael Faber. “Like this character we can all feel trapped inside our own skin at times”. It is this play between the confined space and the freer external world which threads through the album.
This Is The News Today kicked things off and this track is a right cracker. Helene’s vocals are super sweet and those succulent lyrics left me spellbound. Just hearing this beautiful cut left me in a complete daze. To sum things up This Is The News Today was dream pop which had me hooked from the word go. Flat Roof House was ever so majestical and it was electronic pop at its best. This tune left me in a dream like state and Greenwood’s vocals were pure bliss (there were moments where they were slightly robotic). All in all the ethereal Flat Roof House showcased Helene’s spectacular songwriting capabilities. Dream Horses is the recent single and it’s a right cracker. This song was a slow paced tune which oozed plenty of indie pop vibes. Greenwood’s luscious vocals sent shivers up my spine. Towards the end the pace picked up transforming Dream Horses into something upbeat. Crystal Vase was an exquisite number aided by Helene’s sugary sweet vocal tones. This track steadily builds into something quite epic. I can actually pick up on traces of Norway’s Susanne Sundfør. Title track Exquisitely Hopeless was a phenomenal piece of songwriting. The vocals were rather delicate and there is even a spoken word portion during this splendid number. Madame Marina left me captivated, the lyrics left me hooked and the upbeat vocals packed a punch. Greenwood’s cover of I Say A Little Prayer was literally breathtaking. She’s literally taken this well known track, turned it on its head then adding her unique twist. Just hearing this slow paced enchanting cover makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge. Ripples was ever so entrancing and Travelling Inside And Travelling Out was merely a spine tingling instrumental. To Live In The Moon was ever so spellbinding, the vocals were on point and I especially liked the fact there was a variety of different instruments playing in the background. Apart from the keys you also had drums, the saxophone and there was even a strings section. Things then came to a close with the haunting Chorale.
All in all this was a extraordinary sophomore album which showcases Helene’s impeccable songwriting skills. Her vocals were candy coated and each number was delivered to perfection. When it comes to picking a favourite number from this LP I would have to say I Say A Little Prayer edges it ever so slightly. My reason for this is the fact Greenwood has made it her own and created something rather memorable.
As for the originals I would say the likes of This Is The News Today, Dream Horses, Exquisitely Hopeless and Chorale stood out.
You can purchase Exquisitely Hopeless from iTunes