Review site: Fatea Magazine
Review author: Philip Thomas
Date: June 2022
When you bring two talented artists from different disciplines together in a confined space then you are bound to get sparks! That is what has happened here when the extraordinary voice and songs of Norfolk singer/songwriter Eliza Delf collides with a musical polymath like Jon Loomes in the confines of a recording studio. We'll get to Eliza's voice in a minute, but first the songs.
These are songs that pretty much refuse point blank to accept any musical tropes, won't fit in any box or be encumbered by labels. The lyrics are theatrical, even, at times, operatic in scope and scale and looked at on paper stand as poetry without shame. Jon Loomes is clearly a piano and keyboard player of talent. He isn't afraid of technology. Indeed he embraces it and squeezes it until it submits, creating a huge orchestral sound that enables Eliza's voice to float, fly and swim at the same time.
It's difficult not to go 'over the top' when describing this music, but music of an epic scale seems to demand this kind of vocabulary. To be clear, if you are looking for catchy choruses and neat or tidy rhyming conventions then this may not be what you're looking for, but you would be missing something pretty special. There's a touch of Kate Bush, maybe even a little Björk in there somewhere when it comes to the poetic nature of the lyrics and the storytelling approach, but when it comes to the voice Eliza has an earthy, real quality that will go toe-to-toe with such a comparison without flinching.
The title track, 'Into the Wilderness' is almost cinematic in scope with bucket loads of ambience and atmosphere and a very fine example of Eliza singing in harmony with herself. I have to say it made me think of a theme from a James Bond Movie. Close your eyes and you can imagine the visuals on screen. Somebody should play this to Barbara Broccoli! There is a tremendous suppressed power in the vocal style and the lyrics of 'Stealing My Fear Away' that draws you into the song and keeps you there.
'My Familiar' has a pulsing, rhythmic and hypnotic groove underpinned by a drone that resembles a didgeridoo overlaid by some very unusual harmony singing that must have been difficult to perform and that lends an ethereal quality to the song that is most enjoyable. It's hard not to find yourself thinking of the outback of Australia when listening to this…you can feel the heat and almost taste the dust. Terrific stuff.
There are ten tracks on offer here and each is different and unique in its own way. If pressed for a favourite I might choose 'Howl' which is, perhaps, on the more accessible end of the scale of Eliza's work and which is, to my ears, very radio friendly. I have been mightily impressed by this debut from an artist who was, until now, unfamiliar to me. We are going to hear a lot more of Eliza Delf before too long. I will look forward to hearing what she does next.