By Davis Blount
A common variable in all disciplines of art is a constant search for beauty: endeavors to define it, to recreate it, and to find the source of all beauty. While this has been an age-old debate that has received a number of different treatments, Violettas’ new album delves into a vein that not many people think to consider. With their debut offering, The Difficult Ones, Violettas asks the question, “Can true beauty come from the things in life that are inherently grotesque?” If The Difficult Ones is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.
From start to finish, Elizabeth Holden croons heartbreaking lyrics with a quiet sense of emotional detachedness, calmly exploring some of her darkest corners. The brutal honesty of each song’s lyrics contrasted with the understated musical style adds an almost eerie element to each song. This stylistic decision, however, is not at all to the detriment of the album. From the album’s opening “Bye” to the closing song, “What Should I Do,” this album is a can’t-miss that will stay with you long after the first listen.
Since listening to this album over a month ago, I sing at least three times a day this lyric from “Bye,” the opening song of this masterful album:
I shouldn’t be surprised to still be alive
And you wouldn’t be surprised to read that I died.
This is the genius of Violetta’s already-iconic sound: If you allow yourself to be lulled away by Violetta’s jangling guitars and serene vocals, you will miss the beautifully crafted lyrics. In this way, The Difficult Ones can be enjoyed in a number of ways: Allow yourself the pleasure of being carried away by the intoxicating sound of Violettas, but also take the time to listen in awe and horror to the unflinching confessions of Ms. Holden. While neither method is preferred or prescribed (and this small list is certainly not exhaustive), Violettas’ new album is truly an album for all seasons.
While Holden & co. do not have any immediate plans to take this album to any live shows in the near future, listeners ought to hold out hope that shows will be announced soon. In this writer’s opinion, songs like this are something that are best experienced live. These songs, so full of introspection and occasional self-loathing, feel almost intrusive when listened to through headphones or speakers. Confessionals this honest ought to come from the singer herself.
All in all, The Difficult Ones is a brooding, multi-faceted album worth a listen – or ten. You can order the album in digital or CD format here. You can also pick up The Easy Ones, a four track EP released in September of this year, at the same link.