Russian born, Dublin based singer Larissa Tormey has just released her debut album in English. This latest release comes quite soon after her Doors to Joy EP, which rolled out to critical acclaim. Classically trained as a pianist and vocal coach, Tormey has been singing and performing music for years, both in her native Russia and in rural Ireland where she now resides. Her debut album was recorded at Ventry Studios with producer and all round talented guy, David McCune. Tormeys backing musicians include Gavin Murphy (musical director and pianist) and Bill Shanley, (guitar) who has worked with music titans such as Ray Davies, Mary Black and Sinead O’Connor.
Perfect As I Am is a slick, well-produced debut album which has a tendency to be unvaried and familiar in a forgettable way. However, Tormeys impressive and powerful voice stays with you and warrants a proper and close listen.
The second track ‘Addiction’ is one of the highlights of the record. The slide guitar (excellent work by Bill Shanley) and tinkling piano give an otherworldly feel to the song. The slow build and gradual crescendo showcases the full range of Tormeys voice. There are elements of Kate Bush in this song which give depth and scope scarcely found in the grand scheme of the album.
Another standout track is ‘Doors to Joy’. With gently strumming guitar and soft block chords on piano, the subtle intro gives space to Tormeys vocal experimentation with bluesy flat sevens and jazzy spirals. This is where Tormeys talent really lies: in the simple melody lines that allow her to improvise and embellish (which she can do apparently without effort) without having to fill her lungs for bellowing high notes.
‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ is one of the more up-tempo tracks, with brilliant input from Shanley and Murphy. The folksy/bluesy influence is clearly heard here to great effect, and the ever-there presence of a Russian accent adds a memorable flavour to the song.
Surprisingly, the low point of the record is the titular track ‘Perfect As I Am’. With a melody line half-stolen from Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, and lyrics more commonly found in a Disney tune, this song (two versions of it, in fact) do very little to demonstrate the true powerful quality of Tormeys voice, and instead attempts to be some sort of power ballad which falls short of its mark. Although, short comings aside, this song might be just the ticket for someone in the initial turmoil of a bad break-up.
While the tinkling piano and simplistic melodies tend to be a bit Disney-esque, Tormeys masterful command of her sonorous voice means Perfect As I Am packs a tad more weight than a run-of-the-mill Celine Dion sound-a-like. Where Tormey’s strength really lies is in the songs where she is not going for fireworks. It is when she holds back slightly that her vocal quality becomes very interesting. There really is more power in the arrow that’s left in the quiver. In any case, this album comprises of songs that would be a perfect addition to a recent divorcѐes playlist.