Candles- Daughter

daughter2No songwriter can turn a fairy-tale love song into an examination of sexual exploitation like Elena Tonra of Daughter. Then again, Tonra grapples with themes in her songwriting that most artists would never even consider, let alone confront. Daughter’s freshman effort If You Leave (2013) explores these themes artfully- blending psychologically and existentially acute lyrics with richly atmospheric music. Candles, from the EP His Young Heart (2011), is an earlier formation of these ideas, and therefore stands is stark contrast to most hits engineered in the music industry

That boy, take me away, into the night
Out of the hum of the street lights and into a forest
I’ll do whatever you say to me in the dark
Scared I’ll be torn apart by a wolf in mask, a familiar name on a birthday card

Blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me so I stay the night
Just a young heart confusing my mind, but we’re both in silence
Wide eyes, both in silence
Wide-eyed, like we’re in a crime scene

Well I have brittle bones it seems
I bite my tongue and I torch my dreams
Have a little voice to speak with
And a mind of thoughts and secrets
Things cannot be reversed, we learn from the times we are cursed
Things cannot be reversed, learn from the ones we fear the worst
And learn from the ones we hate the most how to

Blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me so I stay the night
Just a young heart confusing my mind, but we’re both in silence
Wide eyes, both in silence
Wide-eyed, like we’re in a crime scene

Cause we both know I’ll never be your lover
I only bring the heat
Company under cover
Filling space in your sheets

So please just blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me so I stay the night
Just a young heart confusing my mind, but we’re both in silence
Wide eyes, both in silence
Wide-eyed, like we’re in a crime scene

While some people may find Candles to be a killjoy, it feels to me like a breath of fresh air. Daughter begins the song relatively stripped down, employing a sole guitar and lots of reverb. As Tonra sings “That boy, take me away, into the night/ Out of the hum of the street lights and into a forest”, we truly feel as if we are embarking to the woods on a gentle, moonlit night, seeking refuge in its dense foliage. Of course once we reach the woods, we must be wary of its nocturnal creatures- the swooping bats and the howling wolves. But, as Tonra points out, the wolf is often not the strange shadow flicking in the periphery, but the person we turn to for protection from that very shadow.

This song, to me, is an elegant illustration of the human condition. We are all, especially in the 21st century, alienated beings. We feel alone, cut off from the other. We distract ourselves with our smart phones, our escapist entertainment, our material possessions, but in the end of the day, we cannot shed this anxiety of separateness, this fear of dying alone (the shadow in the periphery). How do we resolve our untenable situation? Inspired by our media driven culture, we take the well trodden path (the Fruedian route), and indulge our animal drives.

The evolution of Candle‘s protagonist mirrors our misguided, stumbling voyage along the Fruedian route almost exactly. At first she craves an antidote to her isolation, running to the forest, turning to the arms of a friend. But the friend (“a wolf in mask, a familiar name on a birthday card”) takes advantage of his power. A relationship built on escape rather than involvement, submission rather than progression, is unsustainable. Well aware of his position, the friend coaxes her to “blow out all the candles” and “stay the night”. The serene woods become a crime scene. The harshness of this message contrasted with Daughter’s means of delivery- poetic language and delicate guitar- makes the song all the more effective and affecting.

As the song reaches a climax, the drums pound and our protagonist admits her position. She accepts “I’ll never be your lover/ I only bring the heat/ Company under cover/ Filling space in your sheets.” Weary from her fruitless search, she pleads her friend to “please just blow out all the candles”. Pleasure seeking replaces true human connection and our bright eyed protagonist becomes an accessory to the crime.

Check out the song here and please share your thoughts below:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s