Have You In My Wilderness
Sep 21, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Before needle touches groove on any Julia Holter record, you can confidently make at least three assumptions about it. It's going to be imaginative; it's going to be immaculate; and it's going to take your breath away. So it's hardly surprising to find the Los Angeles songstress's fourth LP Have You In My Wilderness is all of these—and possibly more.
After the critical reverence of 2013's Loud City Song—which marked Holter's shift into more dynamic territory—a jump into deeper sonic waters felt inevitable. The opening notes of "Feel You" confirm this evolution; a deft fluttering of percussion and gliding strings shepherd Holter's graceful intone into the song's enveloping aural utopia.
It's hard to ignore the sense of drama running down the narrative spine. The majestic "Lucette Stranded on the Island" wilts and lilts to a gentle tropical breeze, while Holter asks, "Oh she's been removed, can anybody help her?" The aquatic jazz flounce of "Sea Calls Me Home" finds the protagonist moving hopefully forward: "I can't swim. It's lucidity. So clear!" Here, Holter is as much storyteller as musician.
Of course, this is nothing new. Loud City Song and 2009's Extasis were imbued with similar thematic arcs. Yet the richness of production takes these majestic compositions into a new dreamland. "Vasquez" is a dark transmission of meandering bass; "Silhouette" shimmers to the grace and poise of Holter's elastic voice, while "Betsy On the Roof" arrests with its tearful piano strikes and nude vocal glide.
Superlatives barely do the record's beauty or brilliance justice. Something this exquisite extends beyond words on a page or, frankly, sound in the ears. Have You In My Wilderness is meant to be experienced; it's meant to be felt. Only then will you understand just how special Julia Holter's creation truly is. (www.juliashammasholter.com)
Author rating: 9/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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