Juliana Finch - How to Take the Fall
In order to avoid someone calling foul, I'll state right now that julianafinch
, as a once-and-future Housemate, is a friend, and that my generous financial contribution helped finance this album. (Yeah, I pre-ordered my copy... =)
Actually, that should make me somewhat differently biased - as with almost all my reviews, I had to shell out some clams to pay for them. I can't be bought! Well, I suppose I wouldn't complain if someone went down my wish list
. Anyway, all that really has nothing to do with this album.
It would be good under any circumstances. There's no reason this can't fit in anywhere all your world famous singer-songwriters pop up. The only thing that might be considered a drawback to some folks is that it doesn't stick with one style and beat it to death. Some tunes show a countryish flair, appealing to those who like both kinds of music - traditional and contemporary country. Other tunes show more sensibilities in the Sarah McLachlan
or Norah Jones
vein... adult alternative, I suppose, if the singer-songwriter label isn't enough to carry you through. In addition to a beautiful voice, Juliana and the other musicians that appear on the album provide a high level of musical talent, thus additional interest for us musician-types who sometimes like to peek under the hoods of the songs, so to speak.
I'm not going to do a song-by-song - best to leave some for you to discover as well - but I will mention a few. To be fair, there's not a weak track amongst them which is a Good Thing. RattleSnake
- if I had to pick just one favorite, this would be it - has a great muted trumpet line played by Jordan Katz that slinks through this tune, building a mood that really makes this stand out. The lyrics are incredible - some great turns of phrase in this tune that, well, I wish I wrote. It's followed by one of my favorite Irish tunes - The Wind that Shakes the Barley
- and yeah, I prefer this version to Dead Can Dance
's rendition. Ironically, this is the one tune that failed the Ted Test - I let the guy one cube over at work give the disc a listen and he liked all the stuff Juliana wrote, but didn't care for this one. He tends to listen to a lot of female vocalists but doesn't like Celtic stuff in any flavor. Although he listens to the Spice Girls
, so I'm not sure how seriously he should be taken.
Another lyric masterpiece comes up next - just a bit of "song by song" I guess - with Burning Down
. Some great guitar in the opening, and then a really nice piano part comes into prominence. If this one isn't on radio nationwide, there really isn't any excuse that'll get them off the hook, and it would certainly prove that the program directors have been replaced by zombies. Actually, I could see this fitting into a soundtrack - movie or television - and setting the mood for a scene.
Just to prove I'm not going to go song by song, I'll skip the next song - another of my favorites, and probably the most country-flavored on the disc - and move directly to the last song, the title track. This one makes good use of some loops, but, for the most part is dominated by a simple, beautiful guitar part. As with all the tunes I mentioned and those I didn't, this one has some great lyrics. Another one that would be great for an appearance in a soundtrack.
As I received this disc in the mail the day before Musical Day
, it featured prominently on the soundtrack for that gathering - although live music happened on the front porch and the back deck, the inside was two fifths Juliana and, I think some Michael Hedges
and maybe Jeffrey Gaines
? She fit in well with that company, as well as with those who milled about the food or sat back on the couch and listened.