When Boston-based singer and composer Emily Lau embarked on her honeymoon cruise in January 2012, she had no idea that voyage would change her life forever. But just a few days after setting sail on the Costa Concordia, the ship ventured into shallow water off the coast of Italy and smashed into the rocks. After the captain abandoned ship and the lifeboats left the young couple behind to fend for themselves, they found a discarded rope and rappelled down the hull of the sinking ship, desperately hoping for rescue. For the next three hours, they would cling to that rope, wondered whether anyone would come for them at all.
This album of original compositions — written by Lau in the year following the disaster — provides the listener with a window into the couple's terrifying and surreal ordeal, each piece illuminating a different dimension of the disaster. Lau draws from her experience as an active touring classical musician to craft the haunting melodies and enlists an all-star cast of collaborators to construct the vivid soundscape. Virtuosic vocal performances are supported by lush violin and harp accompaniment, while a mournful wind section of bassoons & bass dulcians recreates the slow relentless movement of the sea.
Grounded in medieval polyphony and colored with modern chromatic sonority, Lau develops a unique musical language and paints a series of vignettes, alternately depicting the seascape in turmoil and the hope of the survivors. With texts taken from a variety of eastern and western faith traditions, as well as the work of contemporary poets, Lau asks the listener to accompany her on a journey in search of truth and beauty in the aftermath of a tragedy.
The couple's harrowing story has been told on CNN, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and Vanity Fair, as well as in the memoir "Abandoned Ship" written by Lau's husband, Benji Smith.