Those vocals, layered and whimsical, often act as another instrument in her little orchestra, rather than as a verbal tool per se. But although the lyrics don’t immediately jump out at us, following them offers a striking counterpoint to the album’s serene and secure exterior. We get glimpses into a relationship that seems antagonistic; in the title track, Avina sings, “I wish I had a better knack / For letting it all slide off my back,” and as though sitting across the poker table from her partner and adversary, watches him “raise an island that I won’t match.” Despite the song’s gentle optimism, she is doubtful, tense, and defeated. One has to wonder: is the island they bet on a sanctuary, or exile?
Elsewhere we find more stark juxtapositions between the tranquil nature of the music and the conflict unfolding beneath the surface. Avina seems to float from a resigned, defeatist attitude (“It may hurt a little but not enough / And I knew it would” on “Glove”), to a more confrontational stance. Closing track “Don’t U Give” is her most defiant, and it’s also one in which the sonic characteristics finally rise to match the words, with moody electric guitar and percussion galvanizing the emotion.
Avina’s parting words are the most interesting on the album: “Do you think I’m stupid? / I’m not all of the things I want to be / But now I’m not the only / The only one of us who can’t relax.” There’s no real sense of catharsis here, merely one of resentment. In a way, the album becomes an island in and of itself by the time it’s through, holding all of Avina’s isolated feelings and her inability to escape.