Song Analysis

Shattering Sea

Thursday 22 September 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

(Coming soon! In the meantime, read Tori’s quotes about the song)

"Night of Hunters is a song cycle that begins with a shattering of a relationship as the sun begins to slowly disappear and dusk moves in. Alone in an old Georgian House on the river Bandon on the outskirts of Kinsale Co Cork Ireland, tori begins to piece together what has just happened in Shattering Sea. The "him" in tori’s life we learn carries the force of tide and wave as she carries the force of fire." (Track-by-track commentary first published on Amazon on July 2011)

"While I was traveling around on tour last year, the one thing that kept coming up over and over again from people was how quickly their lives were changing, how they woke up one morning, and they went to work, and then they realized that the business they were working for was closing down. And then they realized that they were having to move. The upheaval that life was bringing so many people, from country to country that I was visiting, made me think: if I’m going to talk about life in the twenty-first century, which the song cycle has to reflect — some kind of reality of that time frame — I felt that one of the key elements had to be that so much can happen in such a short amount of time.

"So I decided to have this occur from sundown to sunup. The backstory is simply that this couple had made the crossing, the Atlantic crossing from the New World to the Old World, on a sailboat. And they have ended up in this old Georgian house on the River Bandon. You don’t know for how long they’ve been there, but the boat is in the Kinsale Harbor. And the shattering of their relationship occurs. That’s how the record starts. And she spends the rest of the night — it’s a psychological adventure for her — piecing together what’s happened."

ON: You’ve used sailboats before, in "Snow Cherries from France," which you wrote for your husband [sound engineer Mark Hawley]. Why the imagery of sailboats?

"Why sailboats? I think that we have a real love for the water, both of us. And it’s just been part of our life and relationship — not sailing, more little boats, not yachts. It’s little speedboats, you know, little runners that run around on the ocean inlet down in the Tropics. And I’ve always had a fascination about people that can live on the water, have no responsibility, are citizens of the world — not just one country, but can go from country to country, with that kind of freedom." (Opera News, October 2011)

The piece is based on a nineteenth-century prelude by Charles-Valentin Alkan named ‘Song Of The Madwoman On The Sea-Shore’, but Tori had other ideas. “When I realised what the title was for that piece I thought, okay, with my reputation I can’t have the word ‘madwoman’ in the title!” she laughs. “But I do think that when a relationship is at a crossroads and there’s blood on the floor and broken glass everywhere, there is a madness there, so I decided to harness the melody of the piece and take it to another place, to bring his voice in as well. Lyrically, I thought it was a good opportunity to explain what their forces were; his comes from the tide and wave and hers comes from fire, and unfortunately they are at a place of brutality.” (Wears the Trousers, September 26, 2011)