Recordings: Emily Haines & the Skeletons – Knives Don't Have Your Back

    Listening to Knives Don’t Have Your Back is like stepping into a cliched, inspirational, you-can-do-it Hollywood movie. At first, the nervous soloist’s voice is so soft and low that she becomes background accompaniment to her own music. Miraculously, though, her voice progressively rises in strength and decibel as she gains confidence, and we in turn realize it’s too late to ask for a refund.

    While Emily Haines is no anxious newbie to the music scene, her solo debut is so vastly different from her rocking siren days as Metric’s vocalist that she might as well be back at the beginning. The album starts off much too lightly to fully engage, but then redeems itself by finishing off strong with soothing, reflective and naked songs such as “The Maid Needs a Maid” and “Nothing & Nowhere,” consisting only of Haines’ silvery voice — a cross between Jewel and Norah Jones — and a piano. Much like a soundtrack to a cold rainy day, poignant tracks such as “Winning” are more soothing than a lullaby — and just as haunting.

    One note of caution: Without a pulse-pounding rock beat or variety of instruments to break up the monotonic atmosphere, Haines’ songs can seem to blend into one dreamy entity. While Knives is a beautifully crafted record determined to show off new independence from Metric, perhaps it would have been best if she did not sever the tie so completely.

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