The series of events surrounding the recording of Ella Vos’ debut album were chaotic to say the least. Through a battle with cancer, postpartum depression and divorce, Vos emerged triumphant presenting a pure slice of herself in the form of Turbulence, released July 31. Turbulence is Vos proclaiming with all her heart that the dog days don’t last forever and that even the most beat down can once again find joy in life. This message is woven in throughout the album, right down to the cover art of a blurred Vos basking in the serenity of Death Valley.
Vos starts with “Dreaming, Backwards,” a song like a sunrise on dark times. Written as she came out of a serious depression, “Dreaming, Backwards” chronicles Vos’ coming to terms with lost time and memories bogged down by sadness and missed opportunities. Her gentle voice, however, isn’t sad. It’s soothing, accompanying the bubbly pop beat.
At its core, Turbulence reflects on Vos’ past not through a negative lens, but with hopes of change on the horizon. The title track of the record is a powerful and relatable namesake that encourages listeners to use their struggles to enrich their lives, though “there’s always turbulence.” “Turbulence” is also one of the few songs on the record to have a solid backbeat, clearly influenced by Vos’ past experience with electronic dance music, rather than the familiar but generic pop she’s stuck to elsewhere.
While the album may not be very unique instrumentally, Vos must be applauded for digging deep within herself and weaving her most tender moments into her songs. From “Burning Bridges” preaching about purging toxic people from one’s life to “Dancing Underwater” urging listeners to enjoy the struggles they go through as moments for growth, she has no shortage of inspirational lyrics and threads for those going through tough times to grab onto.
Vos intends for her album to be something everyone can relate with, but “State of Emotion” turns the spotlight back on herself as an introvert and an empath, someone who is highly sensitive to others’ feelings. “Feeling all of your lows and highs/ Never sure which are yours or mine,” she croons, moving through invisible turmoil carrying the weight of others’ innermost thoughts.
“Carousel” and “Mistakes, They Catch Up” close out Turbulence, bringing a newfound sense of peace and acceptance after the storm. Vos has made it through the flames and destruction, molded into a new person. But she isn’t infallible either, conceding that she still succumbs to her mind every now and then. In “Mistakes, They Catch Up,” Vos ends the song with, “Go on and catch me/ ’Cause I’m so tired tryna run from my mistakes,” a long-fought-for struggle for the singer.
However, though Vos pours her soul into the lyrics, she seems to not have put much effort into the instrumentals. The backbeats could be more engaging, and while they aren’t the focus of the album, considering Vos’ expertise as a composer and accomplished musician, she could’ve set the songs to more moving or emotionally in-tune compositions. The current instrumentals on the album are upbeat and set a basic mood for the album, but fail to embrace Vos’ touching and complex lyrics and feelings.
Turbulence, despite unpacking significant struggles and low points, is energetic and hopeful. It’s a reconciliation with the artist’s past and a clear indicator that she has her eyes set forward. Vos is moving on from her past, but she’s also there to hold your hand as you work your way through the album and your feelings. Her message of thriving in the chaos and her delivery of it is what sets Vos up for success. It’s not a new message, but Vos finds a way to make it heart-wrenchingly her own.