It is often said that the best approach to making music is knowing that it isn’t about the amount of notes that you play but more about which ones you chose to leave out, that understatement is often a more powerful tool than throwing too many ideas into a song. And if editing and underplay is what sets an act or artist apart from the pack, then I’d be surprised if the pack can even see Ariella due to them being that they are so far ahead.
Terrified is an exercise in exquisite control, in elegant minimalism, in eloquent and sparing delivery. In fact, so great is Ariella’s use of space here that they manage to express more beauty and emotion in the spaces between the notes, in the intakes of breath between the lyrical lines, in the fading sonics and the anticipation of what’s to follow, than most bands display in a whole album’s worth of songs.
Theirs is a vintage sound, a timeless blend of jazz and soul, a genre which gave us such greats as Etta James and Sarah Vaughan and which navigated its way to the present via icons such as Amy Winehouse and Diana Krall. And it is easy to see why such a sound and style hasn’t gone out of fashion. The seeming effortlessness, the sophistication, the emotion and intimacy, and the sheer gorgeousness of the way that the guitar work perfect punctuates the vocals in exactly the right place, adding weight and drama when needed, at other times gently drifting away at tangents. You almost run out of suitable descriptive words when trying to capture music so carefully cut and so minimally masterful as this.
Ariella may be a duo but it is safe to say that space is a third member of the band and they use it like a watercolour artist approaching a blank canvas, knowing that by drawing just the right sonic brushstrokes over its surface, it is that space, that atmosphere, that anticipation which will do a lot of the work for them. How smart is that?