AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend (B-)

The brand of music that AURORA creates is almost as wondrous as the natural phenomenon that represents her moniker, which also happens to be her first name (full name Aurora Aksnes). It’s not hard to be immediately taken with her sound; it provokes a feeling that is familiar, yet far off. Like a dark fairy tale, it employs our desire to explore the unknown and our fascination with the danger that lurks in the shadows. This is most evident on tracks like “Under The Water,” where the dark tone musically is coupled with her questioning why we suffocate ourselves through our choices, "Why do we jump in? / Under the water we die." Regardless of mood, the record is never depressing. There is a calmness that hangs overhead throughout the album, and it's that steadiness that speaks to the confidence she had in her vision and the message she wanted to convey. A remarkable display of maturity considering this is her debut album and she has yet to hit the age of 20. Though I think her youthfulness plays a large part in what makes this album so beautiful. Despite her very adult presence she’s filled with wonder and curiosity, trying to understand life as she weaves in and out of it’s puzzles. 

Just like the first chapter of a story, the opening track of an album should set the tone for the journey the listener is about to take. Uniquely, I felt All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend’s opener, “Runaway,” could be used fittingly as an opener or a closer. Musically it sets the tone, but lyrically I thought her longing to go “home” represented the ending of a journey. Either way, the impact was easily felt, and the tone was set. A tone that feels refreshingly original. Even tracks like “Conquerer” or “Warrior,” that could be placed within the world of pop, have a sound all their own. Bring in songs like “Winter Bird,” that half way through transports you to the Scottish Highlands, or the ethereal presence of “Through The Eyes Of A Child,” where she struggles to keep her innocence in an ever darkening world, and you’re taken to another place. This music opens a door to another world, and the experience is one that I deeply enjoyed giving myself to. Taking sounds and themes that garner both a mysterious and magical existence, it allows you to free yourself of the now. I am confronted with glimpses of one of my favorite artists, Agnes Obel, whose music is nothing less than an obsession to me. Look her up. AURORA’s record ends with the sweeping “Black Water Lilies,” a song that encompasses the album just as well as it’s opener, a near perfect bookend. I say near perfect because on the Deluxe Edition of the album “Black Water Lilies” is followed by her cover of Oasis’ “Half The World Away.” Replacing Noel Gallager’s acoustic guitar with a piano, I feel the softness and serenity it possesses would have closed the album better. Nevertheless, what AURORA has done here is nothing short of spectacular for a debut, and there’s no limit to what she can bring to the table.