Ex:Re with Josephine Stephenson and 12 Ensemble

Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble

Back in November of 2019 when I discovered one of my favorite artists Elena Tonra’s new album under the pseudonym Ex:Re, I was instantly obsessed. Elena is the lead singer of Daughter, the third of my most loved bands ever (the other two being Manchester Orchestra and The National) thanks to their haunting lyrics and intricate guitar arrangements. I’ve been more engrossed in the band’s two 2012 EPs—”His Young Heart” and “Wild Youth” and their first full length album “If You Leave” from 2013, but I haven’t loved their recent releases as much, which is where Elena’s Ex:Re comes in. Ex:Re meaning regarding Ex and pronounced x-ray is all about one of Elena’s past failed relationships and the emotions felt during and after the breakup. I was in a tumultuous emotional state when I found her album toward the end of 2019 and although I wasn’t in an official relationship, I connected with the lyrics she penned and sang. And while I thought the album couldn’t be any more perfect than it already is, Elena collaborated with her friend, cellist, and composer Josephine Stephenson and the musical orchestra 12 Ensemble to release a reimagined version of her first studio production. Stephenson composed the score that accompanied Elena’s electric guitar and famed UK string orchestra 12 Ensemble became the singer’s harmony that audiences never knew we needed. The album feels like it absolutely must be performed live in cathedrals and concert halls only thanks to the grandiose string accompaniment and Elena’s haunting vocals. I’m no longer in the same difficult emotional place I was when I first consumed Ex:Re on a daily basis, but this reworked album with Josephine Stephenson and 12 Ensemble reminds me of why I love these songs so much and how they helped me through that period of my life.