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Julia McDonald

Gravity

Review by Gary Hill
Julia McDonald is talented. There is nothing in this set that I would call "weak." There are a couple songs here that are very good. The rest lands somewhere in the range of competent and solid. The problems here are more about the choices made in terms of production and general musical territory. Where McDonald shines is when she can be heard without a lot of studio trickery, and when she moves away from the overly commercial pop territory. There are so many artists doing the same kind of music that she covers in the more mainstream cuts that it's hard to shine. It's even harder when crippled by overly heavy production. She deserves better treatment. All that said, this is still a good set of music that shows a lot of promise.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Gravity

Starting mellow and rather tentatively, this works out to a modern pop music kind of arrangement. This isn't particularly revolutionary or original, but it is effective. There seem to be some games going on with some of the vocals, meaning they seem a bit overly processed.

Games

I dig the rhythmic energy that opens this cut. The stream of consciousness vibe to the vocals on this works really well, too. This song is far stronger and more interesting than the opener was. It's a fun tune that works well.  The vocals are more real here.

Pretty Committee

This number lands somewhat between the first two tracks. The vocals are not overly manipulated on this. The music is a bit more electronic than the sound on "Games," though. Still, I like this song. It's not anything all that unique, but it works well.

No Good For Me

There are some seriously soaring parts of this. The cut has a nice contrast between mellower and more powered up sections. The vocal performance is one of the stronger ones on the set. The cut is sort of by the numbers pop music, but this is strong despite that.

Something To Talk About
More organic, this one lands in the neighborhood of folk rock. It's another of the highlights of the set. It just really allows McDonald's voice and song-writing to stand taller because there are less tricks at play. The chorus does get a bit augmented (in terms of musical arrangement, not vocal manipulation) but it's more of a strengthening than real trickery. This is a great song on a disc that has a lot of good tunes.
Simpler Things
Piano starts this. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. After the first vocals some electronic music is added to the mix. This gets into more typical pop music trappings as it continues. It's solid, but not exceptional.
 
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