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Julia Holter – Her distinct drift towards pop reels us all in [Review] – January 31 at the Chapel

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Julia Holter surely had many waiting with anticipation that night at the Chapel (SOLD OUT show) as she walked out on stage a few minutes late. She addressed the audience with a tangible upbeat energy that closely matched the upbeat tone of her newest album, Have You in my Wilderness (Domino records). This album is her most successful chart release to date, most likely resulting from a distinct drift towards pop and less deep, dark undercurrents of her former albums: Tragedy, Ekstasis, and Loud City Song. The charming melodies of songs like ‘Silhouette’ and ‘Betsy on the Roof’ are likely to win any new listeners over, and the gorgeous encore of ‘Sea Calls Me Home’ will anchor most of us down as faithful future fans. ‘Feel You’ was as much a standout for me as it was for the rest, for the crowd cheered with extra vigor as soon as they heard the intro.

Holter announced early on, “I’m not going to talk anymore,” manning the keyboard with power and purpose and ensuring that her vocals also had a chance to take center stage. The request for “more vocals in my monitor” became a consistent trend, enticing one avid fan (male) to cheekily call out, “You can have more vocals in MY MONITOR…” Julia acted all coy and playfully responded, “you don’t have a monitor,” (wink wink) before laughing to herself and moving on to the next gem — the captivating cover of Dionne Warwick’s ‘Don’t Make Me Over.’ She also slayed us with ‘Marienbad,’ the notable standout from Ekstasis, and her arresting accompaniment of drums, upright bass and viola left most of us stunned. With this, she made sure to point out that her talented accompanying artists were Bay Area locals, having grown up in the San Francisco area and has played in local SF venues like Amnesia, right down the street.

Distilling influences from wide-ranging genres like French classical to jazz-infused post-rock to avant-garde to experimental pop, this eclectic composer would have you believing she’s experienced many eras of music spanning many different countries. You’d then be incredulous to learn that Julia is just a 31-year old Los Angles Cali girl with simply a seasoned songwriting style. Her compositions are defined by shape-shifting complexities and idiosyncrasies (reminiscent of the legends like Bjork and Joanna Newsom), and we look forward seeing what next wave of new genre she’ll catch and bring on board.

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