wears the trousers magazine


julie peel: near the sun (2009)
September 1, 2009, 3:18 pm
Filed under: album, mp3, review, video | Tags: , , ,

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Julie Peel
Near The Sun •••½
American Laundromat

Born in Cannes, and raised between France and Canada, Julie Peel is not only bilingual but also a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. Perhaps it’s this ability to adapt between cultures, languages and instruments that led to her initial ventures as an interpreter of other artists’ songs, contributing to a number of top tribute albums put together by American Laundromat Records for artists such as The Cure, The Pixies, Kim Deal and Neil Young. Having earned her spurs with this material, Peel obviously felt ready to commit to her own voice and has put together a rather enjoyable debut. Sung entirely in English, with an endearingly European lilt, Near The Sun is an expertly crafted full-length, with all the vitality of a newcomer maintained by grounded structures.

Unashamedly independent, Peel recorded, mixed and produced the album herself, and though she plays most of the instruments, longtime collaborator Cyrille Catois joins on bass, upright bass and cello, and percussion help comes from Andreas Dahlbäck, who also drums and produces for Swedish songstress Anna Ternheim. Near The Sun breezes by with casual allure, its lo-fi, guitar-driven pop numbers layered with understated, quirky-but-credible embellishments. This kind of loose musical subgenre – girl + guitar + indie-pop disposition – has room for either innovative songwriting or bland, formulaic filler, and Peel skips merrily between these two avenues, creating fresh-faced numbers that pass the time pleasantly but exit in a carefree, forgettable blur, leaving behind a gauzy, vaguely charming impression. 

‘Living In A Movie’ opens proceedings with a catchy, vibrant buzz as a sweetly cinematic entrance playing cheekily on those Feist-lite soundtrack numbers that everyone seems to be writing these days. ‘Sister’ sees her voice changing perceptibly, with artfully honest lyrics and a sharper, bitterer tone providing a versatile shift in mood and depth. The swaying harmonica on ‘Ok’ nods to Peel’s love of Neil Young, a legend whose influence seems otherwise hard to detect on this album. The emotively slow-paced ‘Innocence’, which was composed and written in an hour and recorded shortly after, shows an artist who can draw out the heart of a simple, basic melody and emphasise it with grace, a perceptive strength that sits at odds with her mild, ‘outsider’ persona. “I don’t get people and they don’t get me,” as she sings on ‘Living In A Movie’, and the later admission of “I know I’m awkward” on ‘The Greatest Story’, point towards a flippantly hermitic drift.

The songs on Near The Sun are all inflected with that gentle, almost well-mannered angst that a lot of lo-fi Canadian artists seem to draw from. This can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on your own individual tastes, but even for those on the ‘against’ side, Peel’s natural blitheness removes her safely from any stylised posing. Disappointing moments include ‘Once More With Feeling’, which jars a little with its Pollyanna cheeriness, and the whining, perhaps intentionally wheezing kazoo on ‘Alone’, which may have been better served by a trumpet. But, in total, this is a fetching first effort, with a moment or two revealing Peel’s potential as a writer with perhaps more to give than is obvious on these songs. Near The Sun is a lightweight album that tips decidedly towards quality arrangements and thoughtful lyrics. And though it may fly by a little too easily, its elegantly buoyant style is hard to dislike.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 21/09/09; www.myspace.com/juliepeel

 

FREE MP3: Julie Peel, ‘Unfold’

 

‘Once More With Feeling’

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice. BTW: … Feelin’ OR … Feeling

Comment by Me!

Sorry; didn’t see the 1st ” ‘ ” … ;-)

Comment by Me!

don’t worry, it can be a really annoying style that we’ve adopted! Glad you liked the review x

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

[…] [Martyn Clayton 9/7] 15 The Dead Weather – Horehound [Chris Catchpole 14/7] 16 Julie Peel – Near The Sun [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 1/9] 17 Sarah Williams White – Fool [Tiffany Daniels 2/8] 18 VV […]

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