If you were one of those who, like me, was totally mesmerised and enraptured by Helen Ballentine’s (aka Skullcrusher) gorgeous eponymous debut EP of last summer, then you will have been yearning for more ever since. Well, good news then, that the singer-songwriter has announced her next EP, entitled “Storm in Summer” and released its title track along with an intense and moody, accompanying single take video.
Ballentine’s magical songwriting is rightfully garnering rave reviews and comparisons with other intense and thoughtful female singer-songwriters, but there is something really unique and special about her that is quite hard to isolate but is definitely (or maybe defiantly) there. That debut EP was rarely off rotation on my music playlists and that heavy playing never dented my admiration for it. Sublime work; and a hard thing to follow up. On the evidence of the title track though, I think I’m going to be in love with this new EP as much as I was with the last one.
After the success of her debut, Ballentine headed to rural New York State to work with her collaborator Noah Weinman and two new tracks: “Farm” and a cover of Radiohead’s “Lift” followed in October. “Song For Nick Drake” (off the new EP) followed in February and now she releases the title track from her forthcoming EP, “Storm in Summer” which is out on April 9th on Secretly Canadian.
Stream ‘Storm In Summer’: https://skullcrusher.ffm.to/storm-in-summer
“Storm in Summer” builds on the startling qualities that the debut EP introduced us to. Ballentine’s beautifully ethereal vocals come with a softness and deftness that bely the underlying intensity and power. The light instrumentation floats in initially like a gentle breeze, with some lovely banjo from Weinman adding a sparkly texture on top of Ballentine’s guitar. The tune builds slowly and through verse and chorus adds more and more layers which create a magnificent swirling sound that just wraps its arms around you and wont let go – not that you want it to of course.
I wrote “Storm in Summer” after releasing the first Skullcrusher EP. Over that summer I thought a lot about what it means to really put myself out there and share something personal. I felt so vulnerable and overwhelmed by the fact that these songs I had written in private were exposed and likely being misinterpreted or disliked. I think the song really tries to communicate these anxieties in a cathartic way while also leaning more into the beauty of relinquishing part of myself.”
Ballentine is basically exploring her own reaction to the examination by strangers of her writing on the first EP. In doing so, she conveys the complexity and duality of being an artist in a global period of angst and she makes the process of doing that sound utterly compelling and beautiful.
Storm In Summer tracklist:
- Song For Nick Drake
- Storm in Summer