The Giving Shapes – the Canadian, Vancouver duo of harpist-vocalist Elisa Thorn and pianist-vocalist Robyn Jacob – offers a new sonic avenue in the new music catalog of the elsewhere label. This classically-trained, genre-defying duo was formed in 2017 and triangulates sensibilities of folk, singer-songwriting (with the obvious, seminal echoes of the British one of Robin Williamson and co.), art-rock songs of Björk or Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood (but also of Norwegian vocalist Susanna Wallumrød collaboration with Swiss baroque harpist Giovanna Pessi) and contemporary music of American violinist-vocalist Caroline Shaw and Bang on a Can co-founder-composer David Lang.
«Earth Leaps Up» is the debut album of the duo. The Giving Shapes cleverly merge familiar and accessible elements with clear, experimental tendencies. Thorn and Jacob also know how to blend the acoustic, timbral qualities and sonic palettes of the harp and the piano and how to weave the melodic themes of Thorn with the rhythmic sense of Jacob. These songs are wrapped in an intimate, ethereal-celestial atmosphere that is not shy from being emotional.
The nine songs flow leisurely and gently but only repeated listening reveals its many secrets. Thorn and Jacob have developed a rare kind of true, collaborative performance that sounds totally organic and often letting the songs sound as may fit larger ensembles. Their warm vocals and rich harmonies keep overlapping and merging into each other. Their strong melodic sensibilities (check «Gravity»), innocent and patient delivery and subtle elements of drama (best captured in «Sightlines») and introspective emotions (“Faces”) sketch a complex yet friendly vision, openly optimistic but one that sounds as feeding on a peaceful, spacious nature, as you can found in British Columbia.
The Giving Shapes, no doubt, already have shaped their very own sound universe. Now it is your turn to take this beautiful gift.
Robyn Jacob (p, v), Elisa Thorn (harp, v)