By The Horns
Julia Stone’s second solo record, By The Horns, is somehow at once haunting and hopeful. The record opens with the slow, understated piano line and soft yet powerfully emotive lyricism of Let’s Forget All The Things We Say. The following track, a cover of The National’s Bloodbuzz Ohio, is faster and more rhythmic than the opener, with smoother and more refined vocals that create a powerful introduction to the album. The record intensifies lyrically and becomes ever more intriguing with It’s All Okay, which is faster and more upbeat than the preceding tracks. Its vocal lines are at times soft and weak and at others powerful, even aggressive, creating a fascinating contrast that draws the listener in ever further. Following such a potent introduction, the following songs feel less complex and somewhat feeble. I’m Here, I’m Not Here and Justine are fairly simple in their instrumental and lyrical content, and do not have the same powerful impact as the songs that come before them. The energy and potency of the record is reclaimed with Break Apart – its soothing guitar lines and emotive, rich vocal content are incredibly commanding.
The record’s closing moments, however, are by far its most impressive. The title track is deeply distressing in the most emotionally loaded of ways. Its poignant lyricism and varied, almost temperamental, vocal melody give it a complexity and sophistication that truly sets it apart from the rest. Following this, the hopelessness the songstress conveys in closing song The Line That Ties Me is made all the more effective. The track’s vocals are raw and unforgiving and its sombre piano line complements them perfectly. The album closes triumphantly, a truly accomplished work both for its musical sophistication and its lyrical dexterity.
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