An enchanting album of heartbreak and recovery from yet another excellent Canadian singer-songwriter.
Julie Title is a 29 year old Canadian folk singer based in Toronto. She’s been around the music scene for some years now, fronting a band and writing and recording folk songs about heartbreak and faithlessness and healing during her twenties while at the same time coming to terms with a bi-polar diagnosis and mental health issues. This is her first full length album and it includes several songs that have appeared over the last few years in single or EP form and in different versions (‘Ghost‘, for example, a songwriters award-winner, has added guitar (steel?) to the earlier acoustic guitar version, and it strongly enhances the overall feel of the song and its emotions “I can’t remember Who the flowers are for But take my hair and wrap it around And leave a bundle at the old house door, I believe in pain, I believe in pain, And changing things but keeping them the same”
It is the electric flourishes (Nick Tateishia -guitars, and Justin Gray – bass) and the addition of drums (Lewis Spring) on most tracks that elevate these poetic songs into Americana territory. Predominantly slow-paced, reflecting the downbeat tone of the sentiments of the songs, it is never mawkish and Title’s vocals are sweet and light throughout, vulnerable but not without some strength. You can feel that she has had more than one difficult breakup but a sense of recovery and healing permeates the album – “But I have dreams and I’m tired, I hope that I can still be inspired, I’m running after the sun” from the title track. ‘Heatwave’ apparently followed a particularly bad break up and evolved when Title took to her bicycle on a blazing hot day to find some solace.
‘Tornado’ explores a particular trauma and the singer’s attempts to recover from it – “We don’t know where the water rises, We don’t know where it dries, We don’t know when it’s time to say goodbye, I’ve been saving so much for later, You’ve been taking more chances, Ten years to the beginning from the ashes”. There is a rather sad sounding but very nice guitar break from Nick Tateishi who co-wrote the song. All the others are solo writes, such as the rather splendid ‘Gloria’, with its spaghetti western guitar sound, and it is easy to see how her songs have been used to backdrop and tail-end a couple (so far) of North American TV shows
Reviewers have likened her voice and approach to Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann, but listeners might hear more of Rose Cousins in her songwriting technique (and her voice, to some extent), an influence she readily acknowledges. Let us hope that the next album is not so long in the making and that her creative juices are maintained, because she has the potential to be very successful. Some changes of pace would be welcome next time, but all in all this is a fine debut.