Julia Holter’s latest album is a live album, labelled by some as a ‘re-imagination’ of her previous releases. Lifting the new album’s tracks from her earlier releases, Holter adapts them and re-performs them to produce an album of both old and new.
Originally from LA, Holter is known for her experimental pop style. Releasing her third album on domino records (5th studio album overall), Holter had a hard job living up to her previous release, ‘Have You in My Wilderness’, with the 2015 album rating highly in many music magazines’ ‘albums of the year’ (1st in Mojo), beating albums from the likes of Noel Gallagher, Father John Misty, and Sufjan Stevens.
Saying this, Holter’s new album, ‘In The Same Room’ does a fantastic job of living up to its predecessor. Many of the tracks on the album are both accessible and experimental, with songs like ‘Feel You’ possessing the ‘catchiness’ required of a good pop song. Holter’s ‘re-imagination’ of her older songs gives them new life, not just regurgitating but producing an entirely different feel and inciting an entirely different response from the listener. Seemingly drawing inspiration heavily from the works of Kate Bush, fans of this artist will certainly enjoy sections of Holter’s new album.
Supposedly, Holter’s producer, Cole M. Greif-Neill insisted Holter mix her new album differently, this time leaving the vocals less ‘treated’ and more natural. This is a good move, with the album demonstrating Holter’s strong vocal ability. Nonetheless, the alternative mixing of these songs does sometimes lead to difficulty in listening. Listening to the album since its release, I have often found it hard to distinguish between different instrument tracks when listening casually, and this leads to the instruments losing their individual impact, instead merging into one noise. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for those who prefer to hear clear instrumentals, this album may seem slightly muddled to your ears. On the other hand, the recordings being ‘live’ (recorded live in RAK studios, London), gives the album a feeling of space, almost as though it is being played in a large auditorium – a characteristic which distinguishes it from standard studio albums.
Overall, Holter’s album is good. In my view, it lives up to Holter’s previous release. However, I’ve never been a massive fan of Holter’s music, and for that reason, this album may seem to have a low score given its comparison with ‘Have You in My Wilderness’. Therefore, straying from the reviews of mainstream music magazines such as Mojo, I will give this album a three star rating. It is certainly worth a listen, though one wonders whether or not this album truly benefited from its live recording.
Artist: Julia Holter
Label: Domino Recording Co / Reprise Records
Release date: March 31, 2017
Play time: 59 mins
Standout track: Feel You