Emilíana Torrini


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Living up to its straightforward name, Rarities pulls together two CDs' worth of tracks that previously appeared on singles and other non-album releases, building on the original (and long out of print) release of a single-disc promotional compilation first released in 2000. That effort helped as a bit of a catchall in terms of presenting more of the obscure corners of Torrini's work following the previous year's Love in the Time of Science; here the far more comprehensive collection becomes the definitive one, presenting both a broader range of original songs as well as remixes from her time on the One Little Indian label. Strictly speaking, not everything lives up to the album title -- songs like "Wednesday's Child" and "Tuna Fish" are hardly unknown songs, but hearing the acoustic version of the latter track is a nice treat, even if it's less strictly acoustic than an understated blend of that style and soft electronics that fully suits her gentle mélange of sonic approaches. The cover of the Jacques Brel-written "If You Go Away" and the rough one-take sound of "7-Up Days," a small bit of shimmering psychedelia, also stand out. The various remixes, including multiple entries for "To Be Free," "Easy," "Unemployed in Summertime," and "Baby Blue," if anything, serve as a fair enough state-of-techno overview for the time period; there's not much in the way of lost classics but it's an instant memory prompter for the time of Tori Amos meets Armand Van Helden collaborations. (The Tore Johansson mix of "Unemployed in Summertime," skittering beats below a steady acoustic strum, makes for a gentle highlight that also shows off Torrini's singing to full effect; the Dreamhouse Radio version exchanges the strum for sleek '80s funk, and quite beautifully at that.) Above all else, Torrini's ear for gorgeously moody music to match her equally strong singing reigns paramount; if it's not a concise, career-spanning greatest-hits collection it still serves as an excellent introduction to her late-'90s work for the curious listener.