Released: 30th April 2021
It’s been nearly ten years since the last Julia Stone solo outing, and in that time, she’s discovered the dance floor. Averting the expected gentle indie-folk of old, instead, Julia has coopted for an alt-pop of sorts; drifting deep into a dark night, billowing dresses flowing as street lights keep on glowing. Welcome to ‘Sixty Summers’.
One thing that quickly becomes clear is Julia wants to hit the road with her love – to speed off into that good night – with numerous references to cars, highways, along with being free and exuberant littered throughout, the itch for grabbing life and running with it reigns supreme, most notably in opener ‘Break’ with its carnival pounding beat and layered chanting.
As much as wanting to make tracks, when ‘Sixty Summers’ does make its way indoors, a disco ball spins with the devilishly luxurious beats that seduce and run carefree. ‘Dance’ is a delicate ode to love that swirls dark and stormy, with the occasional twang of pedal steel.
The National’s Mr Mopey himself Matt Berninger surfaces (an expected turn of events given Julia covered fan favourite ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ on 2012’s ‘By The Horns’). ‘We All Have’ sees his dark and creamy tones swirl with Julia’s brighter but simultaneously reserved vocals, like drizzling thick gravy over a few scoops of strawberry ice cream. On this new sound of Julia’s, even if it’s one of the more reverted sounding tracks, it still displaces, smothering with beefy goodness that just doesn’t quite sit right.
Elsewhere, ‘Fire’ In Me somehow finds itself sitting as a weirdly on the nose, sultry version of Muse’s ‘Uprising’ while ‘Unreal’ comes through with a scatterbrain that’s urgently requiring your attention, beneath it comes a swift garage beat that flies through on a hope and prayer but lending itself to a palpable excitement.
‘Sixty Summers’ is certainly no dud effort, it succeeds in sweeping you away in its momentum – far away to the days of dirty dance floors, and love’s stronger than Montague’s and Capulet’s – but there’s a smattering of recycled moments that tarnish the overall impact. A few songs too long, when the goings good, you relish, but once the night drags on, you wish you were in your PJs at home watching ‘Sixty Summers’ play out on Netflix instead of being the protagonist.