Cult singer-songwriter Helene Greenwood returns with her second studio album, ‘Exquisitely Hopeless’, on November 25.
Exquisitely Hopeless showcases Helene’s frank lyricism and ethereal vocals with nods to the likes of Julia Holter, Jenny Hval and Joanna Newsom. It is an impressive collection that explores a different musical palette to her 2013 debut album ‘Collectable You.’
This change is due partly to Helene’s maturity as an artist but also because it has evolved out of a completely new recording process. ‘Exquisitely Hopeless’ was recorded, across the time scale of two years working in a studio in Richmond with producer James Hallawell, whilst Collectable You was recorded in just one week with songs that had already been prewritten. “I wanted these songs to have a dusty, sepia, tinged nostalgic vibe, harking back to the 1950’s torch songs,” says Helene. “I hope it can evoke this.”
It’s her 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 Helene, 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.
Highlights include recent single, ‘This Is the News Today’, and ‘Dream Horses’, a childlike dreamscape where pictures fade away and return to haunt you – which both echo the ambient sound of an old 80’s Oberheim synth. There’s the smoky sound of a Hammond organ on tracks like ‘Madame Marina’, ‘Ripples’ and her inspiring cover of ‘I Say A Little Prayer’. And don’t miss the haunting closer ‘Chorale’. “Influenced by distorted dream-pop these songs retrieve memories from the present before they disappear,” says Helene of the album.
“I want this record to reach listeners who appreciate the classic pop roots of the past, but who also enjoy new sonic sound worlds. Although we move through the shadow, there are always a thousand possibilities. I want to show that even when life feels at it’s most hopeless there is still the exquisite.”