On album opener ‘Rising Sun,’ Brooklyn-based singer Erin Durant casually sings “I’m going far / I’m going wide” in her balm-like voice. Those words are the mantra of ‘Islands,’ a wide-ranging exploration of lands and life. The music itself may be small-town and rooted in the traditions of the south, but its scale is immeasurable. Indeed, on title track ‘Islands’ Durant sings “I’ve been to Pensacola but never to Rome, I’ve walked thee waters of the gulf of Mexico” and she truly takes you there, the album acting more like an archipelago than a single island.
An uplifting arc permeates the entire record, whether it’s the saunter on ‘Highway Blue’ or the ballroom piano of ‘Take A Load Off.’ Under that arc lies an unquestionable sense of humanity, Durant and her travelling band of friends getting ‘a little drunk,’ ‘smelling damn good food,’ and ‘dancing all night.’ Humans and all their flaws made immortal in the coating of magnificence they truly deserve.
The music though is anything but flawed, Erin’s mastery of the piano is obvious and the embellishments of brass and strings make for a timeless, resplendent listen. The breath is stolen from you most though when all that falls away to leave Erin singing alone with just her faithful piano for company – she carries the 3/4 size piano from show to show with her in the US.
As ‘Take A Load Off’ comes to a close Erin sings ‘The sun comes up tomorrow / something’s just began.’ That start is glorious, all-enduring and we’re pretty sure Erin’s light will set the sky on fire for decades to come. A genuine marvel.
Editors note: I led the UK PR campaign on this record. Erin is an artist I adore; it feels a shame to deprive our readers of her extreme talent hence why this article exists.