Iceland-based singer-songwriter Jelena Ćirić has just released her debut EP Shelters One.
Shelters One opens with debut single Lines, a touching piano-based ode which introduces us to Ćirić’s beautiful storytelling style. Ćirić’s voice is gentle as she sets the scene with “I went to a fortune teller on Saint Clair, west of Forest Hill.” There’s a folk influence to the track with the clapping percussion, quick-paced guitar strums and the atmospheric viola, all of which build as the track progresses. The chorus of “this line is for life, this line is for love, and they don’t cross” alludes to Ćirić’s meeting with the fortune teller at the start, bringing things full circle.
In Time is a downtempo offering which showcases Ćirić’s vocal in its breathy rawness. Piano keys are the main accompaniment but strings chime in at the chorus and the viola elevates the track. The confessional lyrics are written from the heart with lines such as “but the heart doesn’t lie, the road leads to you, in time” assuring that love wins over all other odds. The addition of the gentle accordion lends a folky and continental touch.
Concrete is Ćirić’s chirpy off-kilter response to the words artists hear all too often: “Get a real job.” Minimal guitar plucks accompany Ćirić’s vocal where she sings of “concrete tasks to do with concrete hours. Concrete plans made in concrete towers.” Soaring strings and jumpy piano keys swirl into life over the choppy chorus and as Ćirić makes the poignant point that “things are only worth as much as the weight that they can hold.”
Final track Loughbreeze is another downtempo ode which was inspired by the shores of Lake Ontario in Canada. You almost feel as if you’re stood there on the shore with the piano keys and melancholy accordion interspersed with a wind-like breeze blowing through. The track is about “letting go of the expectations of others in order to reconnect with the essential things.” The bare-bones accompaniment allows the beauty of Ćirić’s vocal and the intimacy of her storytelling to shine through.
When speaking of Shelters One Ćirić’s said: “If emotions were gems, these songs would be an attempt to pick them up carefully and turn them until they refract the light.”
Jelena Ćirić was born in Serbia and raised in Canada. She studied music in Spain and after a spell in Mexico she settled in Iceland. Here is where she found a supportive musical community, free of labels and focusing purely on creating. She draws influence from Laura Marling and Emiliana Torrini and she has honed a skill for composing understated yet thought-provoking tracks.
Shelters One is available to stream now. Find out more about Jelena Ćirić here and have a listen to Shelters One below.