Get ready for the unexpected with this self titled debut by Julian & The Upside Sound, a self described “true fusion of Celtic ethereal sensibility with a bluegrassy folk drive.” The unconventional yet joyful sound is thanks largely to the chemistry of the lifelong friends that make up the group.
“Water” is a fast paced tune, which with different instrumentation could easily be an aggro post punk tune, instead it’s incredibly melodic and in a state of constant motion, showcasing fiddles and poetic lyrics.
“Constantly Risking Absurdity” begins innocently enough and then evolves into odd time signatures and an almost mathrock sound, without the noise. There is some serious pickin’ on this track.
“Mimi’s Waltz” begins with a fiddle solo and delves into classical experimentation. The instruments overlap and counter, twisting and turning. This would make a great soundtrack piece for an indie drama. Eventually vocals come in and showcase the group’s harmony abilities, which are quite breathtaking at times.
“Psalm Of Life” is somewhat of a barbershop quartet, but only momentarily, then turns into an indie folk pop gem, with hints of Dylan… I mean let’s face, he casts a long shadow in the folk world. So far this is the catchiest of the bunch, maybe it’s the shocking jolt of simplicity to this tune that sets it apart.
“Halfway” begins with fingersnaps and a quirky mandolin chord pickin’ keeping the rythm floating along. “Solstice Reel” keeps things moving along with some fiddlin’ against another fast paced rythm section.
“Something Seven” slows things about, an acoustic guitar driven track with some half spoken/sung poetic verses, a hint of a drum keeps the tempo. The nighttime ambience gives it a campfire vibe.
“Sun Hats” is a multilayered, multitextured song full of sunshine and optimism.
“Silverlining Waltz” has a 70’s soft rock tone to it, an ambient and chill vibe, full of contemplative moments. It seems to pick up the pace midway, maybe if only in intensity. Another showcase for a very talented fiddler.
“Out Of Time” starts out as a campfire at night and turns into a crafty singalong with some interesting harmonies, letting the simplicity of the guitar guide the track along.
Overall this is one unique and original album that defies any real categorization, folk, bluegrass, country, campfire singalong… it’s all there but just exactly how it all comes together is a mystery that only Julian & The Upside Sound could explain. The songwriting is compelling and has a soundtrack feel, this is an album that wants you to dig in deep, but with a smile.
Douglas Garnett – firstname.lastname@example.org