Thursday, September 10, 2009
In much the same way Afie Jurvanen stepped out from behind the shadows to record a fantastic record, Julie Fader and her angelic voice has moved from supporting role to center stage with her new record, Outside In. Even if you don’t know it, you know Julie. She’s part of the Great Lake Swimmers. She sings with Chad VanGaalen. She plays with Sarah Harmer. She’s helped out Attack in Black. Basically, her unique talents – a voice as pure as fresh snow, top notch flute and Wurlitzer skills and a penchant for the melodica – keep this young artist in high demand, and she’s yet to disappoint.
From the opening notes of Outside In, you can see that Julie is more than ready to step forward and start standing on her own. Yes, she enlists some of the friends she’s made over the years to help her sketches come to life, but by no means does she rely on their talent. Maps benefits from a gentle crescendo, clacking percussion and a surprisingly muscular riff that explodes into your ears halfway through the track, but the star is Julie’s piercing voice. Flight - duet with Chad VanGaalen – on the other hand is rich in subtleties. It’s also one of the most beautiful compositions I’ve heard all year. The swirling notes mesh with Pete Hall’s lap steel in the moody tale of airline terror, and the notes float despite Julie’s constant fear they, like the plane she travels in, might crash.
Really, the dreamy notes she and her friends use soften the impact of a hugely personal record and helps you keep listening. If you took Julie at face value (of her songs at least), you’d have to think she feels scared and alone but that she keeps it inside. Even when the record hits its deepest and darkest point, the reflective Eavesdropping, the atmospheric strings that float in the distance really lessen the weight of the incredibly personal admissions. Lullabye could show Fader competing with big voiced stars like Imogean Heap for a spot on a soundtrack, until you realize the chorus ends with the biting line, "you were so coked out."
For a debut record, the diversity and consistency she offers is surprising. You can't help but think some of producer/boyfriend Graham Walsh (Of Holy Fuck fame) influence helped shape the dynamic and powerful Skin and Bones, but even if you strip the songs down to her picked guitar and voice, the record never suffers from a lag or even a misstep. That's because Fader is so honest in her approach that even the saddest thoughts are given the gentlest, warmest touch to help them feel human, instead of cold, sterile and solitary.
On one of the standout tracks, Goodbye Before Hello, the electronic back beat, strings and steel form a comforting wall of sound, and let Julie explore loneliness and being alone. Handled by a less inviting voice and less talented musicians (where else can you find talent like Harmer, Dekker, CVG and Justin Rutledge appearing on the same record), the message would be too much to digest countless times. But Fader and her friends keep you coming back for listen after listen. If none of that convinces you, hearing Tony Dekker and Julie sing together over Erik Arnesen's banjo on 723 should do the trick.
The timing of this release couldn't be better, considering Fader is coming to Halifax as part of the Hand Drawn Dracula showcase (that includes Brian Borcherdt and By Divine Right) on October 22nd @ The Seahorse.
MP3:: Julie Fader - Flights