Who takes the lead here? The piano or the voice? I hear Dora’s falsetto like a small origami boat on a lake that stirs gently, tilting between notes as the water beneath nudges it onto a slant. Yet sometimes the energy flow feels reversed, and the boat quivers as a means of rousing the lake out of stillness. I soon realise that it doesn’t matter. They move together, elegantly, climbing to melodic peaks and rolling down the other side. Piano dripping like rain running off a gutter lip, voices arched and swaying like the stems of tulips. Both are porous to the environment, letting the wind run through them and alter their direction, allowing themselves to be subsumed by mood changes that may tug the music from sunshine into puddles of sadness, spilling into each present tense.
Such fluidity means that no emotion or theme is lingered upon. Melodies repeat themselves but no reprise is the same as the last. I hear flutters of romantic thought, tiny droops of melancholy, held notes that seem to stare down the cannon of traditional folk history before snapping back to now. There is a beautiful chord 23 seconds into “No Words” that hits me like a little instinctive jolt of optimism, and Dora lingers on it briefly as though startled by it too. There’s another chord at 65 seconds that flickers into a grimace, fleeting enough to miss if I’m not paying attention. And then there are the other instruments and field recordings (golf balls rolling in the bottoms of glasses, dogs barking, recorders in seizure, accordions snoring), that come and go like old memories stumbling inadvertently into the conscious mind. Like every tiny dent and inflection on Près du coeur sauvage, Dora lets them pass through without questioning them, feeling their presence press against her hands and tilt the melody back and forth.