Unsung Heroes is the new semi-regular feature on Wordcore in which I extoll the virtues of an artist I just don’t think gets listened to or recognised enough. This time around I bend the rules to introduce a badly-kept secret: the bruised and powerful “folk” sounds of Daughter.
Some clever soul on Twitter the other week commented that next time they had the chance, they’d ask someone what it was like to be a man in a band. It’s a wry joke but one with a real point behind it – in 2011, the incredible emerging artists seem much more often to be women (or bands heavily involving women) than men. Without wanting to conscript Unsung Heroes into the sex war, that tweet is on my mind as I choose to highlight this particular artist.
Daughter is largely the brainchild of singer-songwriter Elena Tonra, joined on various instruments by Igor Hafaeli, on drums by Remi Aguilella and on bass by Kevin Jones. The new EP The Wild Youth is out this month – I’m lucky enough to have an advance physical copy bought on the tour. Quite simply, it’s four songs of the most grippingly emotional music released all year.
It was “Youth” that really got me on board. This phenomenal track blends electric folk with the most dramatic splashes of pounding drums and Tonra’s bewildering vocal. But maybe the lyrics are what really make it: I for one feel like a member of “the wild youth [...] chasing visions of our futures”. In lines like those, the song feels absolutely like a product of these times but there are also ruminations on the timeless themes of lost love and self-destruction.
It wasn’t always so. No, one of the most compelling things about Daughter is that here is a project whose development can be traced right back, through early material that is fairly readily available. For one thing, there is a freely available Demos EP online which showcases an even more stripped-down sound that pre-dates not only the new EP but also its similarly impressive predecessor His Young Heart.
Go back further still, and there are even earlier demos that have been floating around YouTube for some time. Most striking among all this is the song simply called “Twat”. It shows that Tonra’s penchant for one-word song titles goes back a fair way, but at first glance it seems an incredibly immature title for what one would presume is a pretty primitive song: and while there’s an element of truth in that, the reality makes perfect sense and is well worth a listen.
Both His Young Heart and The Wild Youth are available on Bandcamp and at the live dates – speaking of which, there is a special set of Christmas shows coming up in December. Taking place in Bristol, London and Manchester and featuring support from the likes of Kyla La Grange and Bear’s Den (among others). I might have to be there – take a listen to what Daughter has put out so far and you might feel the same.