All My Demons Greet Me As A Friend is Aurora’s debut album, and she’s inflicted an emotional rollercoaster on us: playing with her extensive vocal range and delving into raw/saddening lyrics, as her harshly accurate and honest perspective of our damaged world is demonstrated throughout. The 21-year old seems to long for a world and a lifestyle that just doesn’t exist.
“Runaway” is the first track of the album, employing captivating harmonies with a strong underlying drum beat. Her vocals are refreshingly pure, as she builds up anticipation towards a climaxed collaboration of electronic and organic sounds, intertwining with each other; feeding off a choir of backing vocals.
The second track “Conqueror” is driven by the heavy drum pattern, as Aurora explores stronger elements of her vocals, almost chanting her powerful lyrics: “I’ve been looking for a conqueror”. Everything quickly comes together in a superb equilibrium, as it did in Runaway; continuously building the energy within the track.
“Running With The Wolves” is an older track of Aurora’s, yet it still holds the same amount of power, delivery, and overall presence as the previous two. The infectious guitar hook lays a simplistic foundation for her to layer a vast array of vocal harmonies, testing the higher end of her range, whilst the pre-chorus provides a desired platform for this explosive chorus, which is solidified by African style drumming.
“Lucky” settles the dust raised by “Running With The Wolves”, and calms our racing hearts, whilst the drums take on a beat resemblant of a heart. Her emotive vocals are the sole focus of this piece, gliding over a synth accompaniment, offering an organ/church-effect. Furthermore, Aurora’s effortless melody accentuates the strong organic elements within the song, and natural elevation amidst the choruses.
The fifth track “Winder Bird“, holds an ambiguous beginning. Reflecting styles of Ellie Goulding, and The Staves, her strong use of imagery places us in the thick of the story; singing “my finger’s painting pictures on the glass”, being such a familiar image, especially as a child. These songs have followed a similar dialog of youth, longing and emotional battle with society, however offer such diversity each in their own individual delivery, which makes Aurora so adaptable and listenable as an artist and songwriter.
“I Went Too Far” commences with simple, block chords on grand piano. This refreshing dynamic is soon intensified with a driven drum beat, as she chants “give me some love, and hold me tight”, accompanied by an ethereal electric guitar pattern. This universal longing for love isn’t difficult to get a grasp of, and her honest lyrics place us at ease, as the final chorus is introduced with an upbeat groove, and a more elated feel within the lyrics.
As a song of innocence, naivety and nostalgia, “Through The Eyes Of A Child” is only enhanced by the bare/ emotive vocals to start. Her longing for a child’s point of view and ignorance is chilling, as her lyrics depict a pure and youthful image of the “skin of a child”. This desired lifestyle to “rather feel alive with a childlike soul” explores her passionate emotions towards society, and how as adult we’re exposed to so much more due to our understanding.
“Warrior” illustrates a far more experimental sound, consisting of an oriental styled harmony: a pleasing counterbalance to “Through The Eyes Of A Child”. Her vocals bounce upon the various instrumental accompaniment, which suddenly unleashes an explosive chorus, grounded by heavy drums. “Warrior” offers an interesting and captivating opposing style to the album, and her usual folk/pop/electronic sound. “Let Love Conquer Your Mind” is such a strong lyric for her to paint this story around, and I feel as though this track has “turned a new chapter within the LP”.
Intrigued by a dark and dreary title, “Murder Song” greets us with a haunting countdown: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”. Following from “Warrior”, this song re-introduces an unusual, yet compelling oriental style, as the track breaks into an upbeat rhythm of distorted electronic vocal patterns; offering a balance of natural and mechanised elements. This then comes to an unexpected reduction; ending as it begun: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”.
“Home” rests solely on the strength and depth of her vocal harmonies and melody, as she begins. Aurora’s in no rush to deliver her story, and we’re in no rush to hear the next song. Consistently accompanied by a sheet of ethereal instrumentation, the only focus is completely averted to her flawless vocals and lyrics.
For many artists, four and a half minutes can be a challenging amount of time to successfully deliver a song without repetition, or monotony. However, Aurora uses her time wisely, as she has crafted this musically patient piece. “Under The Water” plays with dynamic extremes and passionate lyrics whilst she willingly explores the limitations that social difficulties pose through the metaphor of being under water.
Just as we feel the song couldn’t develop much further, she erases all fury and energy to bring us down to the bare bones and surface of the piece, before throwing us straight back up to the climax, and before we realise it, “Black Water Lilies” has begun.
Dramatically contrasting to “Under The Water”, Aurora has repeatedly played with our emotional thresholds, through mournful ballads, preceding passionate anthems, and this is no exception. The instrumental growth guides us towards something spectacular, as she creates a foundation of harmony beneath her vocals, however teasing us by quickly reducing this anticipation, keeping us completely amerced until she’s ready. Just as we become comfortable with the piece, she lets the music out of our reach and presumptions, once again testing new vocal extremes.
“Half The World Away” re-creates Oasis’s song, as Aurora paints a whole new picture of childhood, Christmas and longing. Associated with the John Lewis Christmas advert 2015 she’s re-moulded this song, with a string arrangement to fit perfectly amidst her style of music, and message carried by her album. It my be fair to say this song gathered a tremendous amount of attention and exposure for her, and pushed her towards where she is today.
“Wisdom Cries” unleashes raw and raspy vocals within Aurora. Something we haven’t heard a lot throughout the album. The piece begins with an unusual a cappella vocal arrangement, once again keeping our expectations adrift. It seems, the more unusual the better, as she’s found that golden area between mystery and familiarity, collaborating these technical electronic elements with her authentically pure and organic vocals, providing a beautiful mix of the two.
The album demonstrates her great artistic capability within folk, pop, electronic and experimental music, and with such diversity offers a wonderfully eclectic mix of sounds, lyrical ideas, emotions and dynamics. What she’ll bring to us in the future is beyond me, however All My Demons Greet Me As A Friend is out now via Glassnote Entertainment – purchase it on iTunes here – and she is touring in the UK this October.
Words by Will Rowe-Parr