Emily Haines: Severs with 'Knives'


If you’ve been anxiously anticipating a release from Metric and happened to stumble upon Emily Haine's first solo album, "Knives Don't Have Your Back," you should probably pretend this album doesn't exist. Truth be told, "Knives Don't Have Your Back" is far from an extension of Metric. This does not mean in anyway that it’s not an exceptional album with great vocal and acoustic experimentation on Emily’s behalf, but this is not a Metric album. For being partly responsible for the indie-rock sensation of Metric, this musical experiment has the potential to either turn die-hard Metric fans away or appeal to them in a completely different way. Her painful stories and hidden emotions come out in this oddly appealing album, but with the omission of her band, she comes off as strangely vulnerable. She’s up on the stage with nothing but her piano.

Don’t expect boredom, I don’t see this album working out any other way than this. I guess I may be at an advantage (or perhaps a disadvantage) because I didn’t buy this album as a Metric fan. I just bought it. The thing is, with such poignant lyrics emanating through the core of every song, the absence of a band really makes these songs all the more intense and full-bodied. It’s the difference between listening to a woman spill over onto piano keys as opposed to watching her rock out with her boys. It adds a bit of vulnerability. It's personal, uncomfortably personal, and Haines is really allowing herself to be vulnerable.

Haines takes full advantage of the solo spotlight, crafting words that reveal her painful self-awareness. I found a great quote from Under the Radar: "I really don't relate to the female singer-songwriter, you're all precious and everyone has to hush while you go over the shadows of your emotions. I've always hated that." It becomes almost impossible to not be “hush� in the midst of her emotional nudity. Emily tells stories about her father's sudden death, the turmoil of life on the road, and the currently aimless fight for women’s rights-- that make Knives' come off as an extended excerpt from her long, sleepless nights.

Knives starkly puts Emily’s weakness on display. She stops being rock & roll for 45.6 minutes. I should mention the final track on the album. "Winning", she offers the album's prettiest elegy and takes on the role of comforting superior: "What's bad?/ We'll fix it/ What's wrong?/ We'll make it alright/ It's gone/ We'll find it/ Takes so long/ We've got time, all the time." The brief reprieve from grim existentialism is defensive but almost tangible; a deep, demanding struggle. But while often difficult to listen to, Knives is an entirely inclusive prescription. As a solemn meditation on modern depression, it's packed with loss but never quite loses.

Listen to tracks at EmilyHaines.com
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