Julie madly deeply in love

 

CD OF THE WEEK: JULIE FEENEY Pages Mittens ****

It’s amazing how the landscape of Julie Feeney’s musical life has shifted. Back in 2006, this writer had to call the singer personally to request a review copy of her debut.

Not only had she played a list of instruments that ran to double figures on the album, she was the purse strings and PR person, too. For most people who heard it, including me, 13 Songs was an epic surprise, a breeze of fresh air in a sea of identikit solo artists.

13 Songsalso proved that sheer talent and originality will always out, without the backing of a big label or the greased wheels of publicity. Feeney garnered interest from Sony BMG and nabbed the inaugural Choice Music Prize ahead of more established and less esoteric acts.

Three years on, its follow-up, Pages, is released via Mittens, Feeney’s own label, and this autonomy allows her the same freedom to experiment. Unhindered by major-label convention or pressure to be commercial, the result is a even more uncompromising. This time, instead of playing the instruments herself, Feeney composed the music and handed them over to an orchestra.

It’s a daring, dramatic approach to making the pop record she envisaged. Single Love Is A Tricky Thinghas all the summery optimism of Bacharach’s pop and sets the lyrical tone for what is a very personal album; love and all its intricacies are dissected and mused on. Mr Roving Eye Guyis the politest revenge song you’ll ever hear and despite the cheery melody, it’s a dark chastisement. Impossibly Beautifulconsists of a circular chorus that won’t leave your head and introduces the recurring technique of Feeney’s multi-layered vocals.

What Pages manages is a classical sensibility that is breezy and accessible. All plucked strings and sweeping arcs of brass, it’s as brilliant an effort at crossover as you’ll get.

In the gap between albums, Feeney studied composing and this dedication to her art has pushed her work further. She is an innovator, an original; incomparable with any of her contemporaries and she has created what might just be the Irish album of the year. www.julie feeney.com

Download tracks : Love Is A Tricky Thing, Impossibly Beautiful, Monster