Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Juliana Hatfield: "Wild Animals" (album review)

It's become increasingly popular for artists, particularly veteran artists, to turn to their fans to fund their new albums.  One of the latest is Juliana Hatfield, who used Pledgemusic to provide the funding to record and produce her new record Wild Animals.  Last week, the album was released digitally to the fans who contributed to the campaign.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I've been a fan of Hatfield's for over twenty years, and as such I was pleased to be able to contribute to the making of the record.  It happened also to buy me a telephone conversation with her, during which I asked her whether there was any pressure on her to make a record that she knew her fans would like.  She said that there wasn't, but even without that I believe her fans will be happy with the results.

Wild Animals is a simply arranged album, with little more than Hatfield's vocals and a guitar on most tracks.  The production is rudimentary, which I've always felt is the best way to present Hatfield's music.  It's rawness lends an authenticity and honesty that it would take millions of dollars and many months to construct in a high-tech studio environment.

The softer side of Hatfield, at least musically, is on display for much of the album.  That tone is set by "Sleep", a song with gorgeous hushed harmonies.

Lyrically, Hatfield has never shied away from appearing vulnerable.  That's carried on with cuts like the heartfelt "June 6th" and powerfully impassioned "Hurt Me".

Even when the pace picks up, it's still a simple guitar arrangement that's at the forefront.  "Parking Lots" is an energetic number with a solid hook, while a delightful jangle powers "Dog On a Chain".  The vivid, off-kilter imagery of "Push Pin" make it a highlight as well.

At this point of her career, Juliana Hatfield is not exactly breaking new ground.  What she is doing is continuing to express herself with her music, giving any outlet for both her and her long-term fans.  I for one am grateful for it.

Best tracks: "Parking Lots", "Push Pin"

Track listing for Wild Animals:
  • Sleep
  • June 6th
  • Spit In the Wind
  • Parking Lots
  • Dog On a Chain
  • Hurt Me
  • Tracks
  • Push Pin
  • Or So They Say
  • Love Is Like the Wind
  • Never Beg


L said...

Thanks - good rundown of the new record. Very helpful.

IraDW said...

authentic and mesmerizing, as usual! --iw