staff picks
Halcyon

Editor's Note: Please welcome our new freelance reviewer Matt Campbell!

Halcyon is the second studio album from British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. I had no clue what to expect when starting the journey of listening to this album. Right away you are greeted with a voice. A voice that you have heard before, but only in parts. Her voice is like a complicated algebra equation that is part Tegan and/or Sara, plus Maja Ivarsson (lead singer for The Sounds), divided by Imogen Heap, and multiplied by Sinead O'Connor. It's one of those voices that is honest. Honest in its ability and its emotion. I don't think she is just singing words on a page, she is singing life. Needless to say, I was impressed.

I also noticed her use of more modern musical trends. There is the obvious Euro-pop synth influence, but to my surprise I noticed some American electro/indie (her single, "Anything Could Happen") and dubstep ("Figure 8.") creep in as well. Instead of the music sounding like some corporate suits said, "The kids like dubstep, do a dubstep song," it sounds like she said, "I kinda like this dubstep, let's incorporate some of it." There's a big difference. Then on "Joy" (my personal favorite from the album) she strips things down to piano and a string section. All flow seamlessly together in the context of the album as a whole.

Overall, Ellie Goulding shows she can handle a wide variety of musical styles while still keeping her unique voice, thus putting her enthusiastic stamp on each song.

Grade: It's rare to find an artist that can write a song that can lullaby you to sleep, and also write a song that wakes you up in the morning, excited for the day.

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