to this intimate gig at the lovely North Wall with more than an open mind,
knowing from recordings that
songwriter and lead singer,
In command from the start on piano, Biel seemed to pick up even more of a sense of sexy soulfulness and cool when she picked up her guitar, and the second number she played on guitar, ‘The Wilderness’, developed into a wailer of a rock track, with Rahman supporting on backing vocals.
An incredibly sweet number, ‘Emily’ recounting an interaction with her six year old niece, slid seamlessly into a long melodic dreamy break and tumbled into a shimmering false ending before reeling to a close. ‘Ghosts’ followed, a frenetic chase through an acoustic storm, which gave the drummer a chance to shine as he took the lead to close it out.
second half a tragi-comic song of resignation and personal impasse, ‘You Could
Turn A Rainbow Grey’ was surprising and memorable in its melancholic beauty.
What made it wonderful to me, was how it made the subject relatable, the lyric
‘I think you must prefer the gloom’ giving such a cleverly-coloured tinge to
the grey shadows. The performance was also a beautifully crafted one, as was
The rolling, grand ‘Something Beautiful’ was also a standout moment for me, a song space which again gave the band a chance to create a scape, those climbing guitar lines, and a wide smile on the bassist’s face as his beats wave into outer space.
Julia Biel has a special combination of properties as an artist. Her unique vocal talent is a part of it, her bold and very natural independence another, she seems to present just as she is, without editing, wild hair and all. She also has a wonderful ear for states of being, and how these fit into states of song. She captures moments, whether they be melancholic tributes such as ‘Hymn to the Unknown’ remembering her sister, or powerhouses of joy raising the rafters like ‘Something Beautiful’. She has a new, eponymous, album out, her third. Many of the numbers we heard tonight were taken from this new release, and I can hand on heart recommend you to go hear it.