I can’t say how remarkable the concept of this record is. If there was one word I would use to describe Nashville’s Iolite, it would be resilient.
“I almost saw Heaven, and now I’m bringing it down, bringing it down,” she sings in the opening track. It’s a mission statement of sorts that she could easily apply to the rest of her life.
What I am referring to? Last November, Iolite (real name Elina Odnoralov) was carjacked at gunpoint after leaving a babysitting job in East Nashville. She unfortunately would not escape without injury; the carjacker drove her to an ATM, and when she saw an opportunity to flee, the perpetrator fired his gun in anger, striking her in the back. Gladly, she survived and escaped major injury.
This incident and the months following would serve as the inspiration for this EP. The quality of the songwriting, the honesty and toughness portrayed in the vocals, and how just freaking gosh darn cool the production and instrumentals are create a trifecta that the entirety of the music journalism world should be discussing, given the context.
The “Eureka” moment for me came in the car one evening when “Better to Remember (A Letter to My Kidnapper)” came on in my car. The moving song begins with a simple statement, “You showed up in my dreams last night…” Such a line might imply some sort of PTSD effect—and it’s not my place to say how a victim of a violent act should process something like that—but what followed was unexpected. The chorus kicked in, and I found myself cranking my stereo all the way up and having a blast. It’s the ultimate “make lemonade out of lemons” effect, only in this case the lemons are justified insomnia and the lemonade is Iolite “scaring away the ghost” of the perpetrator through the power of a badass pop song. It was undoubtedly the encouragement of many, and weeks of conversation that led her to this point.
“Sure of,” is a poignant moment of the record that also just freaking catchy. Iolite is not content to just release a raw power ballad when navigating the negative emotions that come with reliving such a visceral experience. “Last I wasn’t lying when I told you, you’re the only thing I’m sure of” is a hook that will be echoing in my mind for quite awhile, I’m sure. “Talk In My Sleep” plays out like a march, and I find myself dancing at my desk while typing this—even though my phone just buzzed warning me of a tornado warning in my area.
I wouldn’t advise staying up during a tornado warning to work on an album review—especially if your desk is near a window and not in your basement. But, compelling stories sometimes override all else. And Iolite’s is that.