It seems to have been a while since we reviewed the epic 2021 EP ‘More Than Reaction’ from Juice Webster and while we might have missed material since then, her recently released debut album ‘Julia’ confirms her position as one of the most exciting musicians coming out of Australia.
‘Julia’ is a collection of shimmering and beautiful tracks borne on Webster’s diaphanous vocals, sweet and soft and filled with a yearning melancholia that bleeds into every note. Described as alternative folk, the instrumentation recalls elements of The National or Sufjan Stevens, the vocals are easy to compare to Big Thief, Phoebe Bridgers or Taylor Swift, and yet Webster has her own distinctly unique sound. It is something that is restrained and yet intense like a slow burning fuse, filled with a wide-eyed romanticism with a deeply personal resonance to every track.
Opening track, ‘Returning’ has swiftly take its place as one of my singles of the year so far. Floating over gently dappling instrumentation and graced with the most delicate and heartbreakingly beautiful melodies, this is a stunning track. Expressing a raw vulnerability, the track deals with the uncertainties of love and self-doubt with a graceful and haunting melancholy:
I’m wild in the way I’m not there,
My hair is falling out of my head,
I’m gonna shave it off so I’m bare
I watch you through a lens, like sunset,
I like my hair the best when it’s wet,
Reminds me of a place I’ll forget
It is an utterly beautiful track and perfectly captured in the accompanying video filmed and edited by Joey Clough, as Webster performs on a wild and bleak coastline:
Second track ‘In The Zone’ is a sombre, statuesque track rolling on an arching reverberated piano riff that seems to prowl ominously before breaking into a glorious chorus like the sun breaking through thunder clouds:
‘Black Coat, Black Skirt’ is filled with stange off-kilter noises in the ether, bubbling and scraping underneath the acoustic thrum and Webster’s cool vocals exploring a sweet devotion:
I don’t want to go through, the shit that you’ve gone through, but I would have done, it for you
‘Waking Dream’ has a delicate guitar arpeggio with Webster’s vocals aching with a sweet delicious pain and a call and response chorus that lends a haunting, ghostly element, a reflective thread that continues into ‘How Can I’ with its delicate refrain and a synth whisper. ‘Without You’ references the album title (and Webster’s birth name) in the lyrics and recounting a deep love – I don’t know what I’d do without you – and laced with a self-deprecating sense of humour.
‘Among The Wires’ has the same delicacy as the opening track – Webster’s ear for an infectious melody is formidable and she has an ability to subvert folk tropes by adding intriguing music flourishes and embellishments that hover in the distance. This is another achingly beautiful track that hangs effortlessly in the atmosphere.
‘Headaches’ introduces a more brighter dream pop element to the collection – recalling fellow antipodeans Hatchie or Fazerdaze with a jangle and a shimmer.
‘Two Hands’ with its arpeggiated guitars dappling under Webster’s vocals has a psychedelic sheen to it with the layered vocals adding depth and shine.
Final track ‘All For You’ with its syncopated electric drums is another heartbreakingly beautiful track that floats on Webster’s languid velvet vocals and a jumble of guitars and piano that create an ambulant platform to the romantic gentle lyrics.
Webster launched her debut album in Naarm/Melbourne on Sep 22 and will be flying to play a show in Paris, with more live dates to come.
Friday 6 Oct – Balade Sonores – Paris, France – Tickets from here
Feature Photograph: Ryan Kenny