For her, and Domino Records, latest release Julia Holter has chosen a slight twist on an age old format to capture some of her most beloved songs. Everyone is familiar with the 'Live Lounge' concept and has no doubt heard numerous session tracks, whether from the vast archive that John Peel helped amass or from a more contemporary source. Here, on 'In The Same Room', Holter's latest album Julia, her band and her label have decided, hey why wait to be asked by someone else, let's just crack on and do it ourselves. So at the legendary RAK studios over the course of two days, and eleven tracks, that's what they've done, their own 'live sessions'.
The concept sounds refreshingly simple. No over worked mixing, no fancy production, just honest takes of some of Holter's back catalogue presented in varying 'live' arrangements. The album draws its name from Julia's second release and comprises re-workings of songs from three of her previous albums, 'Tragedy', 'Loud City Song' and 'Have You In My Wilderness'; the latter, justifiably, taking centre stage with seven of the eleven selections.
Some of Holter's earlier work, 'Horns Surrounding' and 2011's 'So Lillies' kick off the album with a graceful, delicate, elegance; 'Lillies' sounding particularly resplendent in its near Baroque majesty. The first take on one of her '..Wilderness' tracks is where Julia seems even more assured though. Holter's take on 'Silhouette' is as soft as it is sublime with piano and vocal sharing equal credits on a stunning performance that brilliantly builds to a magnificent break down and ending. The crisp quality and well executed arrangement, balance of instrumentation and performance are maintained throughout. Previous single 'Feel You' is another standout track here with its magnificent harpsichord, angelic backing vocal and undulating waves of sound.
Arguably Julia Holter's biggest breakthrough tune to date is her biggest triumph her too. 'Sea Calls Me Home' has just that little bit more confidence than some of her other more fragile compositions. There is an audible swagger in Holter's vocal as she assuredly delivers this track. The percussion too is more pronounced and the overall effect is just as stirring as it first was.
Through 'In The Same Room' Julia Holter really does highlight the very best in her resume. The song writing, the musicianship and the arrangements are all bang-on. What really comes across in the mix of songs however is Julia's range and delivery. In just two consecutive songs, 'In The Green Wild' and 'City Appearing' for example, Holter veers wildly between high shrill and low croon and from near mania to torch song melancholy.
Holter and her band have not just rocked up and laid down a few tracks here, there is an obvious attention to detail (Loving the amended tea spoon against china start to 'Lucette Stranded On The Island'), a game plan and a method. The resultant album, although more spontaneous than most, is a well worked and very cohesive piece of work that more than effectively captures the essence of Julia Holter. 'In The Same Room' maybe be considered as something more for her established fan base but it's more than that, it'd be a great place to start, a glimpse at some of her best work all tied up in a neat 'sessions' like bow.
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