Single: Henika - 'The River'
Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Henika streams 'The River' taken from her self titled debut EP.
Possibly owing to my own ignorance but I don't tend to amble into much music from New Zealand. Even less so when the artist was originally from Slovakia which is a country I know criminally little about, other than the fact I know a woman married to a Slovakian postie. Anyway, Henika is the artist whom I'm describing and she brings with her the solemnly wonderful track 'The River'.
"I've been stretched too thin, I got permeable skin, go down to the river and I'll soak it all in" opens the track, backed by quiet ambience which breeds an ominous start to the track. I don't often get the opportunity to praise lyrics as they seem to be something of a dying art these days, but it's with earnest appreciation that I listened to the words in 'The River'. The recurring line that the track is based around "Lay down in the water, feel my current growing stronger, let my mind drift away" holds a certain bleakness in fitting with the whole sound of the song. Music is like a jigsaw in the sense that it needs fitting together; creativity allows for the bending of shapes and that line fits all four corners.
Further to the lyrical theme fitting in well with the concept of a river, the music itself cascades along to a climax. Whilst starting with sheer ambience as noted before, we find other instruments chime in to add to the texturing. Guitar, drums and synth all gradually fall into place though the tempo remains somewhat calculated until the end. There is a building crescendo until about the three minute mark where there is a reprise to the calmness of the beginning. Naturally, this spills back out into the open waters of the previous crescendo and comes to a close. It's incredibly well structured and just a lovely sounding track altogether.
In addition to all that nice stuff I've just said, Henika also has a superb voice. She holds notes perfectly and has that harrowing edge that a song such as this requires to cross the line from tranquil to ominous. It feels a bit lazy on my part but were I to compare her vocals to someone else I would probably say PJ Harvey, and I guess there are shades of her in the music too. If you consider the Lord of The Rings films a bit shite then this is probably the best export from NZ in recent times.
Words of Jake Collins