First off, I’d like to discuss the fact that it is unseasonably warm outside. While I love leaving my parka at home as much as the next person, I’m convinced that global warming is on its way to kill us all. However, as spring approaches, I was in need of something slightly more uplifting than my depressing January playlist on Spotify. This, my fellow friends, is what lead me to Lenachka.
Helene Immel is a 22-year-old singer/songwriter, first discovered in 2012 by producer Charlie Peacock when her cover of “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift, featuring the Civil Wars, caught his attention. Born in Germany to a Russian family, she immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was just 8 years old. Her stage name, Lenachka, is a common name of endearment used by Russian mothers. Now working in both L.A., and Nashville, Lenachka continues to write with many songwriters and producers. She currently lives in L.A. where she has formed her own band.
Lenachka released her first self-titled debut EP in 2014, leading with “Breaking Down.” Starting with simple echoes and sweet guitar strumming, “Breaking Down” remains subdued until its swell at the chorus. Lenachka addresses returning home when she sings, “I thought I found my way back home / Going to the place that I know / But I’ll find it anyhow.” By adding traditional string instruments like violins, she puts a classic twist on an otherwise light pop song. By the time the bridge picks up with quicker beats to illustrate running away and finding herself, Lenachka has the listener hooked.
“Good Luck” initially feels edgy and jazzy, with an electric guitar and techno beat that pick up halfway through. Lenachka drags the boy that wronged her when she sings, “You keep saying that you miss me / While you’re with another girl / I can’t believe I let you kiss me / No time for games in my world.” Conversely, “I Want to Love You” sounds like a tribute to Lady Antebellum. Heavy drumbeats, echoing layers and delicate vocals showcase Lenachka’s voice. By keeping the instrumentals subdued while she sings, her voice is able to soar when she muses, “I want to love you / The corners of your heart no one’s been to.”
Initially sounding extremely techno before segueing into quick electric guitar riffs, “Go Slow” sounds much rockier than the other songs. Lenachka’s ethereal voice creates a juxtaposition between the confiding lyrics and heavy, quick instruments. Closing with my personal favorite, “Edge of New York” uses sweet vocals, snaps and nostalgic lyrics that simultaneously speak on moving forward. She intertwines traditional New York scenery to apply to her message of continuing on with or without someone. It is a pop song that doesn’t sound too sugary or upbeat, while the bridge sounds straight out of a Sara Bareilles song. When Lenachka sings, “I’m on the edge of New York / With my back to the water,” it feels like she’s on the precipice of something larger than the listener can understand.
Lenachka sums herself up in her Facebook bio far better than I ever could, saying, “I speak Russian & my English should be better. I love flat soda & the Investigation Discovery channel. I have six other younger siblings, they are the best. I take way to many bubble baths. I think cleaning helps me think. I make music.”