5/29 - Julia Stone - 'By The Horns'
The spirited wings of Julia Stone's music have carried her to reside in foreign lands, to delight crowds of many thousands and to graciously receive the highest acclaims in her homeland.
From the very start, her keen senses have always been trained on the hidden voices of the walls and windows. In her second solo collection, Julia's voice dances between hopeful and weary, defeated and desperately alive.
The centerpiece and title track of the record – “By The Horns” - describes the duplicitous power of male aggression and deceit; Julia assumes the guise of a commanding chanteuse leading her crack nightclub band and declares: “I've learned my lesson, no one is to blame, except for you” as she repeatedly asserts “I believe in love” amidst her clinical dissection of a callous lover's transgression. Julia gently advises: “Everyone’s a little lost on how to love well... the beautiful thing is that everyone keeps going back for more. Our hearts naturally want to be open and full of love. I always come back to wanting to love, even when I get hurt.”
These songs have been composed in California, refined in France and sculpted in Australia and India and as the summer turned to fall in New York City, they poured through her hands to the ears and hands of Producer Thomas Bartlett who has worked with Doveman, Antony & the Johnsons and The National and is currently producing upcoming record by Glen Hansard. Bartlett expertly creates living and breathing sounds along with the most understatedly talented musicians on By The Horns.
The sessions were co-produced by Patrick Dillett, equally known for his work recording powerful female vocalists like Mary J Blige and Mariah Carey, and as a producer for David Byrne and Arto Lindsay and mixed Julia’s first solo album The Memory Machine.
Oren Bloedow's (Elysian Fields, Lounge Lizards) buoyant bass lifts us into Julia's playful surrender on opener “Let's Forget.” Rob Moose (Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, Antony & the Johnsons) drapes the walls with viola and violin and Bartlett's keyboards shimmer as Julia reminds us we still can, and must, open the window on “With the Light.” Brett Devendorf's (The National) drumming lends a roiling pulse of groundless rhythm to the insecure imploring of “I'm Here, I'm Not Here” and then, on “Justine” carries a courageous, intimacy-seeking lover to the end of contention. Then there is Julia's interpretation of The National's “Bloodbuzz, Ohio,” which infuses the song with a subtle vulnerability.
Aching and yearning, “It's All Okay” joins the players perfectly, a pulse of piano and pleading poetry. The album closer, “The Line That Ties Me,” is a haunting heartbreaking, yet enlivening lullaby.
By The Horns signals a great transition; an introduction of Julia Stone as a singular artist of her own voice, the birth of a mature voice of formidable strength and delicate insight, out of the shadow of past successes.