The Norman Transcript

February 14, 2014

Music review: Aurora Florence combines Broadway, pop

by Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Musician: Aurora Florence

Album name: It’s Wonderful (2013)

Why you should listen: Aurora Florence is a New York City-based actress and singer/songwriter with a new album of original songs. Halfway between an LP and EP, there are six tracks with two of them being different arrangements of the same composition. The disc clocks in at a compact 20 minutes of delightful listening time.

Florence’s vocals bring to mind the question of how many sopranos it takes to change a light bulb: Just one. She holds the bulb and the world spins around her. Florence often hits high notes reminiscent of female singers popular in 1930s era cinema. It’s a style rarely heard in contemporary pop music. There are more than a few nods to Broadway musical theatre in her sound. Florence emanates from a rarified musical universe and if only one word could be used to describe this collection of songs it would be minimalist. Frequently the wonderfulness is just voice and a handful of piano notes or acoustic guitar. Although there are half a dozen guest musicians playing drums, cello, celesta and back-up vocals, they are held to a tightly controlled minimum.

Florence is a bubbly stylist in a fashion similar to pop singer Colbie Caillat for one of the best songs titled “Chores.” It’s a cheerful ditty about cleaning up the playhouse. Using a cleverly demure turn of words Florence expresses her erotic designs in “You Are Mine” with the lyrics, “Aching for you to see, the Cap’n Crunch and me.” Throughout the album her words adeptly straddle the thin line between comprehensible poetry and annoying obfuscation. All the lyrics are helpfully included in the liner notes along with a campy retro-fashion shoot photo of Florence who looks like a young Audrey Hepburn. It’s all pretty wonderful.

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