Monday, August 14, 2017

Julia McDonald - Gravity (2016)

Written by Alonzo Evans, posted by blog admin

It’s rare anymore that a pop artist knocks it out of the park on their first release.  Usually it takes a couple of tries for someone to develop their songwriting but there are certain exceptions to that rule.  Case in point, Julia McDonald and her tasty flirtations with pop, r & b, trip-hop and soul groove on the debut EP, Gravity.  With the aid of producer/co writer Tavie Basarich, Julie McDonald has created an offbeat, mini-pop masterpiece.  As good pop tends to be, these songs are stripped down to the hooks and nebulous areas are covered by scores of synths/programming that keeps the beat going. 

The cool rush of the title track provides a good mixed mood intro that plays with ambiguity in its set-up; softly breathing keyboards, honey-coated vocal croons and spacey acoustic guitar usher in a mood both dark and light.  As the track rolls onward the volume moves skyward like a slowly rising wave, crashing beats, melodic synthesizers and McDonald’s expressive delivery selling the material to any ear that will listen (even those who might not usually).  This night-lit lamentation is offset by the thumping dance-y bump of “Games” where the acoustic guitar picks up the tempo two clicks above the title track and incorporates busier percussion to enhance the lively, free spirit vocal declarations.  From attitudinal slams to a gorgeous chorus, Julie is more than capable of adding spice to any musical dish.  “Pretty Committee” saves the committee for a cerebral take on Katy Perry’s school of hit single magic.  The jangly, mid-speed synths sparkle and fade alongside a steady beat and soft instrumentation that gives McDonald a chance to bust out some vocals that roar more than they coo. It’s further proof that she draws from soul and other genres for inspiration.  “No Good for Me” follows suit with a piano/key melody piled over pop radio programming, the track providing yet another highlight thanks to the soaring chorus.  The stalwart rock influence during “Something to Talk About” is another side of McDonald’s many songwriting facets with closer “Simpler Things” culminating the EP in starry eyed, dance/dub theatrics. 

Gravity will certainly appeal to pop music fans, especially those looking for more variety in the way songs are composed and arranged.  Not only does McDonald rule on the songwriting/singing end but she also obviously works well with her producers as the mixing is in top form.  If you want pop that feels like discovery with each passing listen as opposed to disinterest, Gravity is the place to go. 

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