Emily Danger. Photo credits: Joe Curnutte (photo), Lynsey Buckelew (makeup and styling)
Every war has many fronts. So “War Torn,” the new single from multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Danger that we’re premiering here, has conflict stitched into every square inch of it. Danger was an opera singer earlier in her career, and her heavy, cabaret-influenced rock now sounds like it has ingested all that stored-up vocal power and turned it inward. Instead of thundering out, it reverberates in, and deep – more radiation through bone than sound waves through air. And that’s by design. “War Torn” grapples with the performativity and dishonesty inherent to our most intimate relationships. There is nothing loud nor expansive about the realization that, as Danger puts it in an email, “We have no control over the way we are viewed, no matter how hard we try.” This song is a wrestling match between subject and object, as the latter breaks from the expectations that bind her to the former.
For Danger, the eponymous battle of “War Torn” is very personal. The track “is about my fight to be ‘perfect’ for someone who will never see me as such,” she says. “It’s about striving to be the breadwinner, career woman, feminist artist, ideal wife, caring mother figure, and sexy seductress all in one, and failing to meet expectations.” Danger’s choppy, vibrant co-production with Devon Craig Johnson provides the broken landscape dropping out from beneath the equally-broken relationship at the song’s lyrical core. This is a dark, compelling look at an artist separating herself from a couple of well-defined institutions (opera, marriage) and entering an inchoate, unknown territory of her own design.