Julia Holter, Circuit des Yeux | Constellation | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Julia Holter

Julia Holter

Tonje Thilesen

When: Wed., March 2, 8:30 p.m. 2016
Price: sold out
Julia Holter has explained that last year’s stunning Have You in My Wilderness (Domino) is missing the conceptual thread that ties together the material of her previous three recordings—last year she told the New York Times that the songs “didn’t really belong on any record.” I find a few of the pieces toward the end a bit lackluster myself, but the bulk of the album is her strongest work yet. Holter brilliantly uses her strong foundation in classical and experimental music to warp and manipulate exquisite pop melodies into something uncanny and special, and though the tunes here are more direct than anything she’s done before, they still sound sui generis. The fundamental oomph of “Feel You,” with its brittle harpsichord lines and angelic wordless vocal accents, and “Silhouette,” which features surging string arrangements that add drama to the twirling confection, come from Holter’s ever-strengthening gift for melody and her improving ability to control her voice in delivery. She has no problem moving between a husky, almost Germanic sternness on “How Long?” to a full-bodied sunshine on the Brian Wilson-esque “Sea Calls Me Home” to a Joni Mitchell-like expansiveness on “Betsy on the Roof.” There’s so much substance and beauty in Holter’s work that I’m always wondering what comes next, but I often need to remind myself to bask in the splendor of what she’s doing right now.
— Peter Margasak

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