'Eternal Child' by Daria Kulesh “…powerful and intensely direct narratives”(January 07, 2015)
The ‘first-person’ album is nothing new. Personal albums range from snapshots of incident and experience to utterly exposing chronicles of a life-journey. The privilege of finding an artist’s soul desperately close to the surface is a rare occurrence. There are usually masks and facades laid in place that protect or perhaps lessen the impact. None of that happens with Daria Kulesh’s debut solo album ‘Eternal Child’. This is possibly the most raw and unashamedly revealing collection of songs I’ve heard in a long while. That said, it’s not a gushing exercise of self-indulgence, it’s a set of powerful and intensely direct narratives that reach out to touch, and that touch goes deep.
Daria uses these songs to explore acute moments in her life-documentary from the unique perspective of guileless innocence born into all children. She uses that perspective to reflect on seeing beyond the idyll of youth, losing the comfort of childhood’s safety blanket, laying bare fragile memories and exploring the cold, mendacious, darkness the world so often delivers. And yet she remains unafraid to retain that first open honesty, realising that surviving as the ‘eternal child’ is a rare gift. While the reaching and longing of the mood-rich opener ‘Fata Morgana’ searches for answers to loss, the harsh understanding of changing experience in ‘Letting Go’ edges a feeling that darkness is never far away. Understanding that closeness to sorrow somehow increases strength and resilience, the harrowing honesty and ultimate sanctuary of ‘Right Here’ and the achingly pure revelation of ‘Tamed’ come alive through Daria’s beautifully clear, alluringly accented vocals.
The wider aspects of fragility are explored through the image-rich ‘At Midnight’ and the desperate plight of Butterfly Children encapsulated by ‘Butterflies’. Giving a harder edge to her vocals, Daria delivers a heart-breaking view of trapped experience with ‘The Hairdresser’, while ‘Fake Wonderland’ records the stark realisation that falsehood only breeds pretence. The closing songs reflect on distances between friends, from the inspired addition of hammered dulcimer on ‘I Watch the Snow’ to the essential and sometimes scary recognition of freedom that runs through ‘Cracks’.
The musicians on ‘’Eternal Child’ are Daria Kulesh (vocals) Ben Walker (guitar, keyboard, mandolin, ukulele, octave mandola, bass, accordion, synths) with support on selected tracks from Lauren Deakin-Davies (guitar, keyboard) Luke Jackson (vocals, guitar) Kate Rouse (hammered dulcimer) and Kaity Rae (cello). The faultless production that releases this album’s soul for all to hear is the work of Ben Walker and Lauren Deakin Davies.
With her band Kara or as a solo performer, Daria Kulesh always delivers lyrics that expose untainted sincerity with a voice that pours out their spirit, through ‘Eternal Child’ the source of those words is revealed. If there’s an album to buy this New Year, this is it.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll