Juliah - 'Be Still' EP
We'll start this week with another EP, this time from Swedish songwriter 'Juliah', the name of which ('Be Still') was taken from a headstone that she came across whilst visiting Highgate Cemetery in London. And in many ways it is an appropriate title for music that seems to demand that you put yourself in a calm frame of mind in order to listen to it, or risk the whole effect completely washing over you.
So this is Juliah's 2nd EP, which follows on from her debut last year entitled 'Sincerely Yours', and it contains 5 tracks, one of which ('Lover of Mine') some people will have heard as it featured in a video by illustrator Fran Meneses.
'Be Still' opens with 'Sigh of a Breeze' and again there is something significant in the title - a request for stillness to hear the sounds we wouldn't otherwise hear. The bird song and guitar open the track, and then we're introduced to vocals that have a soft exquisite feel, and a reassuring delivery which suggest that on the spectrum between Fairy Godmother and Wicked Witch of the West, 'Juliah' sits whole heartedly on the side of the former, rather than the latter. 'There Are Days' is possibly my favourite track on the EP, I like the lyrics ''there are days when you suffocate me, drowning me in chaos and uncontrollability'', and the rumbling rhythms of percussion gives the track a darker undercurrent.
Lover of Mine' is a gorgeous track, which gives freedom to the vocals, it's the stripped back instrumentation which brings them to the fore, and the softest of melodies carries the track forward. 'Fragments of Us' takes longer to get to like, because the strength of the song is in the way that it slowly builds, starting with some lovely guitar touches just under 2 minutes in, followed by gorgeous vocal harmonies and another engaging melody. Title track 'Be Still' has a melancholic feel, but then it opens up with a delicate melody that again seems to reassure and cleanse me as I listen.
OK so this is probably not going to be for everyone, this isn't really 'hard hitting' or challenging music either lyrically or musically, but 'Be Still' is another EP (after Stine Norse which we featured a week ago) which demands that you give it attention, that requires you shut off the stresses of the world and allow yourself to be consumed by the beauty of the sounds. Clearly the vocals are the real highlight, with a warmth and softness that dominate the music, and that seems to aid my state of mind. I really hope you'll all give it a listen.