Vinyl Corner : Emiliana Torrini ‘Fisherman’s Woman’

Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect, as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Today we’re looking at the new reissue of Emiliana Torrini’s 2005 indie folk gem ‘Fisherman’s Woman’.

The Music:

Originally released in 2005, ‘Fisherman’s Woman’ was Emiliana Torrini’s fourth album and something of a departure from previous efforts. Although hardly a raw album, it was relatively sparse and the instrumental palette shifted from the electronic to the acoustic. It was an album of quietly fingerpicked guitar lines making their way across frequently fragile narratives which were often only decorated with clean, airy lead guitar and choice vocal overdubs. Songs ranged from the playful to the tender and the general mood was one of curiosity and melancholy in equal measure; a salient brew that lent the album a singular voice and a niche, but eager, fanbase.

The Pressing:

We’re looking at the new reissue released last week. Originally released via Rough Trade Records in 2005, the album received an unsurprisingly small run upon original release has long been something of a collector’s piece, frequently trading hands somewhere in the region of £100. The original pressing was allegedly cut at 45rpm, potentially leading to superior sonics over this reissue, which runs at 33rpm. Although we don’t have an original to directly compare this to, it seems unlikely that the original could actually have superior sound quality to this reissue as it sounds excellent with little room for improvement. Torrini’s vocals have an immediacy to them that lends ‘Fisherman’s Woman’ a fittingly intimate quality in keeping with the sparse instrumentation; it’s a soundscape that lends itself well to a quiet, well pressed record – and this Rough Trade Records reissue is just that. With a low noise floor and no errant surface noise on our copy, it’s a rock solid pressing that allows the spaciousness of songs like ‘Today Has Been OK’ and ‘Serenade’ to unfurl at their own speed.

The Packaging:

Both the sleeve itself plus the layout and art direction are really attractive and aptly complement the clarity of the music contained therein. The original pressing included a lyric booklet, which is absent from this version but that’s certainly no major concern given the availability of lyrics online. The included inner sleeve is a generic non polylined white affair, so swapping it out for a more protective sleeve is worthwhile. There are a number of touches on the sleeve that suggest an admirable attention to detail from Rough Trade Records – the gatefold sleeve boasts a thick, chunky spine and there’s a pleasing tactility to the light texturing on the cover. Rather than placing an ugly barcode on the back cover, it is instead found here as a sticker on the shrinkwrap – a welcome touch that few labels are considerate enough to do, despite the ease of execution. Label art is attractive, too, echoing the painterly stylings of the sleeve with a pretty aesthetic which sits well with the music and general artistic direction of the album. One small annoyance is that label sides could have been more clearly indicated (being as they are sans tracklist, you have to rely on a small-font catalogue number to indicate the first side) but this no more than a small minus.

Final Thoughts:

This is a great and much needed reissue of an in-demand cult favourite. Given the quality of the packaging and the great playback, the pricetag of £14.99 from the label’s webstore seems very reasonable, especially in comparison to the market price of an original copy. This reissue offers a really solid and, crucially, wallet-friendly way to hear ‘Fisherman’s Woman’.