The singer-songwriter category is often quite more diverse that it may seem. When one listens to an album of such a person there are often background accompaniments. There is no such thing as a one-man band, in which the one man plays all of the instruments simultaneously. There is of course the run of the mill solo acoustic songwriter who believes in him or herself so much and think that they have what it takes to set themselves apart from the dense pack of redundancy that swarms open mic nights like flies on a turd. Luckily for us all Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist Julien Joy, who records under the stage name Bright Future, is not one of those flies.
Julien Joy has polish. It comes from his extensive musical background. Joy worked at the legendary Electric Lady Studios, and even played at the possibly even more legendary CBGB's before it closed its doors forever. His debut three-song EP Bright Future was recorded at home though it sounds as though it was done professionally. Its sound has a richness that is hard to define. Joy wanted to keep everything as organic as possible. The record sound is lean, but flimsy. It is well built but not overly stocked with too many instruments. The acoustic melodies are brightened up here and there by a bit of piano and some strings.
The opening track “Ann” is a finger-picked acoustic minstrel-styled ode. It is reminiscent of Nick Drake and Harry Chapin. The next track “Jesse” is a scratchy upbeat tour de force of acoustic folk pop. It’s brightened up by a little synth and some handclaps. Joy’s vocals have a hard edge to them, and his lyrics cut like a sharp knife. The EP closes with “Little Steps” an achingly introspective look back on life, which begins slow and sappy but picks up as it progresses. The addition of strings and bits of piano flesh it out and it flows into a powerful closer.
Anyone looking for some seriously good acoustic folk pop that’s not run of the mill should not pass up this Bright Future. Although it’s only three songs, they are three very well-crafted songs that leave you wanting to hear more.
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