Sometimes Julie, is one of San Diego’s most engaging and original rock bands, that emerged from a chance collaboration between singer/songwriters Monica Sorenson and Rick Walker in 2012. Walker, former guitarist for Chicago’s Greeley, is a multi-instrumentalist who reveals his rock n’ roll genius as he defines Sometimes Julie’s unique sound. Sorenson paints the pictures, finds the words, tells the stories and delivers the melodies with her powerful vocals. As the band professes “Walker is the theory, the rhythm, the science, the skill, and Sorenson is the front woman who is all heart and art.” Where Are You? the sextet’s fourth and latest release is a hard-driving rock record, that “wears Sometimes Julie's deep-seated blues and Americana influences on its proverbial sleeve.” A truly full-band affair showcasing each band member's musical influences, the group’s style is both aggressive and melodic, intricate and sublime as they plug into the sounds of indie, Americana and alternative rock. Recorded at Pacific Beat Recording in San Diego, engineered by Alan Sanderson and mixed and mastered by Andy Machin, Bigrock Studios,in Escondido, Where Are You? displays Sometimes Julie’s impressive musical range while offering music anyone can dance and sing along to.
For starters, “She Can’t Kiss You” heads right out of the gate with a sultry, bluesy style – a few guitar riffs in there which reminded me of Zeppelin and early Heart – and the organ was the icing on top. Overall, a great opener especially on the bridge parts and, what’s a rock n’ roll song without a great guitar solo? “Knew it All Along” begins with cool sounding keys, a lone guitar lick and smooth bass lines all centered on styles both old and new in this song about falling in love. I really liked how this one progressed along. Next up is “If Only” and it features an atmospheric sound and more of an indie alternative sound. I enjoyed this one a lot – the sound of the guitar, the bass melody, the bass-ier drums. Something elements within this song reminded me of the English bands of the early ‘80s. It had that nostalgic feel to it.
“Own Kind of Savior” offers the listener a slower paced song. You may hear some hints at ‘80s pop rock or contemporary country ballads from the ‘90s. The next tune “As Good a Day as Any” gets as pretty serious as any break song can get – I mean, dang, I felt the pain and I’m not even going through a breakup. Sometimes second chances have outlived their run and the only thing left is to say goodbye. Nice addition of the congas on this tune by the way. “Walk Among the Dead” features plenty of short guitar riffs in between verse and chorus, and lyrics that suggest a feeling of comfort and resolve when there’s nothing left to lose after you’ve been raked over the coals in a relationship. “Counterpart” has a mix of classic rock along with harder edged Americana styles. There are fantastic melodic bass lines being played here, not to mention a wailing guitar solo. Musically, I thought the entire band was at the top of their game here – everyone played strong.
“Quiet” offers the listeners an interesting juxtaposition of sorts, I think – pleading for “some quiet” as the “bees are swarming in my head” and “grey wolves prowling around my ears.” Lyrically, the words are a metaphor for “losing one’s mind” as the band discloses later on. Musically, I thought it was pretty cool to mix up the sax with indie rock sensibilities of the early ‘80s, although as I recall the saxophone was a pretty hot instrument to play back then. Anyway, this one reminded me strangely of the Go-Go’s – but with a sax. “Arachne’s Pride / Minerva” features a Latin styled guitar solo intro, and then a driving rock beat. Not sure if the lyrics exclusively reflect the life of the Roman goddess (Minerva), or the protagonist (Arachne) in Ovid’s epic Greek poem Metamorphoses, but the band’s lyrics made it clear that somebody didn’t want to wear a crown, she just wanted to be “small.” I’m guessing it was the former. “Lost Art” begins with a great piano/guitar melody, matched beautifully with Sorenson’s voice.
“Love Me Gently” is the band’s hallmark bluesy, slow dancing number, and it asks to be loved truly and gently, “’Cause my heart can’t take, that kind of break again / my heart can’t take any more.” The band’s last number is “Counting My Lucky Stars” and it has a nice, driving rhythm that feels just right for the closer. The song’s message is a positive one that’s directed toward a special someone – being grateful for them, having a glass that’s full and counting answered prayers.
Altogether, Where Are You? is a pretty solid album throughout and I think it offers something for everyone.
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