Text by – DAVIDE LANDOLFI ; Translation by – JULIA PERRY
In Your Hands marks the return of one of today’s coolest British pop/soul artists: Eliza Doolittle.
Her debut, Eliza Doolittle (2010), penalized her because of its similarities with some of her colleagues, Lily Allen and the late Amy Winehouse, by masking Eliza’s appeal.
The pop sound mixed with soulful references was a breath of fresh air, in fact signaling the huge success of singles such as “Pack Up” and “Skinny Genes” (that became an anthem in our country thanks to a commercial), but that still wasn’t enough to make a mark on the music scene.
With a debut album that gained instant success after its release, and after an almost unnoticed return to the music business after a three year break, Eliza Doolittle finds herself exactly where she started, yet this time, her music has changed.
Remaining faithful to her catchy and bubbly debut, In Your Hands shows a more mature side, but most of all, it’s a disc that has something to say.
In the past three years, Doolittle has gone through a sentimental breakup that is echoed in her second musical work, but not in the same-old post-breakup song like “21” by Adele.
In Your Hands, in fact, recounts the pre, the during and the post, in a series of amorous ups & downs that range from R&B beats to a more intense, soul.
The disc opens with the ever-so-present piano and clapping in “Waste of Time”, that have become a trademark of Doolittle’s entire artistic vision, but these sounds, apparently, as cheerful and innocent as they may sound, hide harsh words: “What a waste of time, precious little time, I’ll waste some of yours babe if you waste some of mine”. Like “Hush” or ”Let it Rain”, that show the intent of the disc, “I found my way with bad directions. I’ve done my best, and I learned my lessons.”
But all that glitters isn’t always gold: the tones become darker and relentless in the soulful “Bad Packing”, the first hint of obscurity from the relationship and everything that follows. A dreamlike atmosphere in the beautiful “No Man Can”, recalls a lover’s feelings to the highest peaks, just like in “Walking On Water”, but on the other hand, with the title-track, Doolittle reaches the apex of her discography.
The best song of the moment and the choruses in the background, only slightly present, disarm and throw you into a whirlwind of love with no forewarning. The evocative power of In Your Hands is worth the entire disc and all of her past, present, and future productions.
It’s impossible not to be contaminated by the radio friendly “Checkmate” and impossible not to compare “Make Up Sex” to Lily Allen’s style that Doolittle seems to experiment with, now more consciously than in the past.
In addition to the strong influence of soul, a jazz feel also adds to “Don’t Call It Love” and “One in a Bed”, that once again demonstrate the versatility of this British artist and her ability to blend leading sounds with the lightness and lightheartedness of pop like in “Big When I Was Little”, first single of her second record, that doesn’t exhibit any maturity in sound compared to her previous single “Pack Up” and other previous works.
The disc concludes its course just the same way as it started, but with a more mature and grown-up point of view, “I need to chill against the rubbish cans and learn to live with dirty hands, I tried to put my make-up on, but I’m not fooling anyone” with the splendid “Rubbish Cans”, tremendously 60ies.
What is surprising about In Your Hands is the way in which the end of the relationship is dealt with: Eliza doesn’t cry over herself, doesn’t annoy with a series of tear-jerking ballads (which have a lesson for Adele to learn!), understands her mistakes, only takes away the good from it and goes beyond her usual bubbly beats that almost make you forget the harshness of the lyrics.
Eliza Doolittle doesn’t stray far from her original style and stays true to herself by not conforming to current musical trends or for the easy money and fame, but continues on the dirt road she started three years ago. She certainly hasn’t reached a turning point in her career, but now shows more consistency in her work as well as, most of all, transparency and honesty.