On her second solo release and operating under the moniker of Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, Haines shows us a more intimate side. She is largely features her piano and soft falsetto for most of the album, at times the latter dominating with little accompaniment. And while the album sounds fantastic, Choir of the Mind's strength is the manner in which it touches on themes of empowerment.
In turn, Choir of the Mind is a guide book and a life coach. When Haines makes a confession that “love is my labour of life” on “Strangle All Romance”, she is speaking more towards loving humanity in the face of hardship. “Legend of a Horse” is about experiencing the wildness of life and and showing resilience even after “being punched 10 times or more”. It's easy to assume the message is solely intended for feminist movements, but Haines is appealing to all humanity throughout the record by exposing her vulnerabilities and inviting us to learn from her “Mine Field of Memories”.
Haines warns of the “Nihilist Abyss” and laments that a true human experience is about feeling the full gambit of emotion, suggesting that while we can't run from who we are, but we must embrace and empower all the good within ourselves and turn away from the superficial level which most of us live.
Choir of the Mind delves deep into human psyche and explores some of our most surpressed thoughts. The album is an introspective personal journey where big guitar licks are non existent, replaced instead with Haines’ layered vocals to create a soft background for her lead falsetto to come and go. It's a beautiful piece of work from an artist who is destined to walk among Canada's elite singer/songwriters.