An unusually paced debut with a gentle build of atmospheric ambience and lilting folk.
Atmospheric Acousto-Folk artist Julia Meijer has released her debut single. But, demonstrating boldness if nothing else, it’s not a standard debut single: it’s a double A side release, Ocean / England.
Perhaps even more boldly, the tracks cover two wildly different sides to her sound. Ocean is a lilting acoustic-led track that gently blows spatterings of emotion across you. Interestingly, the lyrics to Ocean were based on a work by Icelandic poet Steinn Steinarr – who is one of the most famous Icelandic poets of all time and considered a national hero. In spite of this, for the most part he remains unknown outside Iceland. Sadly, it feels slightly that this particular part of Steinarr’s story is what resonates most with Ocean.
Meanwhile, England definitely goes more for the atmospheric angle of her sound. Coated in psychedelic guitars that wail as Meijer delivers a hauntingly ethereal vocal, it’s the sound of an artist crossing the threshold between life and death, what lies here and what lies beyond joined by a fleeting moment of transcendental and shimmering beauty.
But in a final act of boldness, Meijer’s track ordering is unusual to say the least. For a debut, there’s often an overarching sense of urgency: how can I get the listener to give me a chance unless I start at my best? Yet in selecting to not lead but to softly ease in with Ocean, it feels as if Meijer’s concept of pacing is at odds with the current musical climate. She leads in with what is audibly the weaker song of the two. Why?
It feels like an enlightening payoff, but it’s an unusual tactic to employ for a debut single. While both songs are good, England is the one that manages to leave a lasting impression.