In early 2012, producer and songwriter Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Holly Williams, The Lone Bellow) came across a cover of Taylor Swift’s song ‘Safe and Sound’ on YouTube, by an aspiring singer-songwriter Helene Immel. He immediately sent her a note saying, “Heard your cover of ‘Safe and Sound’. Really like the sound of your voice. Just wanted to let you know my door is always open to you to send songs as you create them.” Helene took up his offer, and has since been signed to Charlie Peacock’s Twenty Ten Music as part of a production and publishing deal.
Their goal: to make beautiful pop music the whole world will sing.
Helene, who has adopted the stage name Lenachka, an old nickname her mother gave her, has spent the last two years in the studio writing and recording with a group of talented songwriters such as Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), Jason Reeves (Colbie Caillat), and Mike Elizondo (Fiona Apple). On the 23rd September 2014 all of Lenachka’s hard work will be released into the world in the form of a five track EP.
When I first heard the music, I had to give it a good few listens to become properly acquainted with Lenachka’s unique voice and her storytelling. The EP as a whole tells a perfect story of the human experience including the trepidation of new love, of loss and healing, new beginnings, and inner strength. Though albums tell stories, it is in each song where Lenachka really shines; she can create one song in which you spend an hour unravelling, or where you find yourself still undecided where her true feelings settle.
The stand out tracks for me are the melancholy ‘Breaking Down’ and the ‘70s inspired ‘Good Luck’. The opening track, Breaking Down’ written by Lenachka and Kesley Kopecky (Kopecky Family Band) reads initially as being a typical break up song but dig a little deeper and you find it be a lot more subtle and delicate. To me it tells the story of a woman who has been hurt and has decided to look after her heart and keep it safe until it heals.
“I can’t say I’m not tired/ But rest is on the other side of the door/ And when I hear the knocking of my once muted heart/ I’ll let you in.”
The song is interspersed with Lenachka’s gentle “ooohs” which entwine themselves between the layered vocals, the gentle guitar picking and the melancholy orchestral strings. For me, it seems that all the instruments and vocals are working towards the big crescendo in which she sings,
“And just because I’m running/ Doesn’t mean I’m hiding/ And just because I’m hurting/ Doesn’t mean I’m breaking down.”
The rich and lush pop/funk infused ‘Good Luck’ written by Lenachka, Charlie Peacock and Mike Elizondo, is a ‘kiss off’ track where the protagonist is basically telling a boy who she’s been dating that she is no longer interested in his games, and she wishes him good luck with the rest of his charade.
“Good luck/ Doing what you’re doing/ It’s not me you’re fooling/ You thought I’d never know/ Good luck/ You put on a good show/ Had me in the front row/ But now the curtains closed.”
The music could quite easily be mistaken for a ‘70s dance track. However, instead of it being an exercise in nostalgia, it brings modern beats and harmonies to the floor, creating something entirely unique and all round amazing. Taylor Swift may have uttered the phrase “This. Sick. Beat” but Lenachka is the one who truly owns it.