Album Review: Eliza Delf – Into The Wilderness

Eliza Delf is a Norwich-based alternative folk artist who has just hit my radar through her imaginative new album Into The Wilderness. Here’s my track by track review.

By Graeme Smith

Feature photo by Owain Delf

From the first few notes of opening track Howl, Into The Wilderness is an album that grips you. With a sound that combines classic folk song-writing with modern pop sensibilities, it has a sort of universal appeal. What is most arresting though is its lyrics. Pregnant with imagery, Eliza’s lyrics dodge clichés with ease.

Production comes from Jon Loomes whose mission was to ensure Eliza’s storytelling had an appropriate soundscape. He achieves this through use of instruments often neglected in pop. Howl, for instance includes Kantele, a Finnish folk harp, and track two Stealing My Fear Away features flute. It creates a dreamy feel, as if you have entered a fantasy world that shadows our own.

Track three Wavelength is a “lullaby for adults” as Eliza describes it. Its waltzing rhythm is calming, and there’s a strong feeling of sunny nostalgia about it all. If She Were To Fall, by contrast, has a darker tone. It’s a cautionary tale for the Me Too era. The first half of the album is rounded off by Singing With My Ghosts, a haunting ode to those gone but not forgotten. It’s a powerful highlight.

My Familiar opens the second half. It delves deep into spirituality, speaking both of lost love and rediscovering self-love. Based on a chant, there is an affirming feel to it, delivered against and interestingly textured instrumental arrangement with a driving drumbeat.

Heaviness In The Head is a relatable exploration of life’s tougher moments. A rarely discussed topic in music, Eliza’s use of imagery keeps things feeling fresh. It’s followed by In The Court Of The Queen Of Strangeness. Another waltz, there’s a vulnerability lurking under its jolliness. A mid-track instrumental breakdown brings a surprising taste of baroque pop.

Track nine Penance is one of the album’s most rewardingly challenging. Eliza’s lyrics speak of feminism while Jon sets them against an arrangement that could open a James Bond film. It’s very cleverly done.

Into The Wilderness finishes with its title track. At almost six minutes long, it’s a song that both takes it time and pushes boundaries. The patient listener is rewarded with an explosively cathartic finish.

This album is a simply stunning debut from an artist who I think is destined for great things. Infusing her folk poetry with pop sensibilities is a masterstroke. Eliza and Jon make a wonderful pairing and together they’ve created something really special.

You can listen to the whole album below.