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Angus and Julia Stone - A Book Like This Album Cover

Angus and Julia Stone - A Book Like This

Reviewed by
8.3
Angus and Julia Stone - A Book Like This
Record Label: Nettwerk Music Group
Release Date: March 3, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Australia. It's a continent/country of pretty landscapes, pretty people (Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts) and pretty music (The Bee Gees, Silverchair, The Cat Empire, Midnight Oil) and in that vein of pretty music comes the folk duo Angus and Julia Stone. A brother-sister duo, the group is known for being prolific ---- 2006's Chocolate and Cigarettes EP, 2007's Heart Full of Wine EP, three 2008 digital EPs (Hollywood, Just a Boy, The Beast) ---- and proficient, as well as handsome and hearty. Their debut full-length album A Book Like This, is filled with honest, earthy folk songs that feature a heavy dose of acoustic guitar and heart-on-the-sleeve sincerity.

The disc opens with Angus' "Mango Tree," one of the album's finer moments. It's a gentle song with a sweetly plucked guitar line and a warm, comforting voice. Julie takes the reins next on "Wasted," another quiet, subdued song about the paradoxical approach to love and the inherent caution one takes. Much like "Mango Tree," it's another quiet, relaxed offering, but the power and passion it contains is hard to resist. There are certain songs that have an ability to pique an interest without really doing anything and "Wasted" is such a track. Julia sings again on "Private Lawns," a lively reggae-inspired kiss-off about the divisive line between corporate comfort and blue-collar struggle. It's a monster of a song and one that would make Bruce Springsteen proud.

"The Beast" is a sun-drenched sparse offering that has a Josh Rouse-like vibe to it. It's sunny, uplifting, toe-tapping and wholly unobtrusive. "Silver Coin" begins with a bare piano outro before percussion sits in and Angus starts singing, "I had a drink and you were gone." It's a simple line but one that sticks in the psyche long after the song ends. Title track "A Book Like This" is Julia's return to the mic and it's a welcome one, as she sweetly sings: "I stand on the shore, like an old black and white movie, love is taste, love is lost again tonight," as a cello and a banjo begin to enter the mix. The aural landscape of the song set against Julia's haunting and vulnerable vocal delivery is a true delight. The shivering piano and Julia's cries of "hold me tonight" go right for the heart and don't let up until the song finishes.

"Choking" follows and its a long five-minutes of Julia trying to prove the upper hand in a relationship. Truth be told the song dawdles a bit longer than it should and it's the album's first real letdown. Angus returns for "Bella," another slow crawl that invites a girl to the dancefloor with the playful lines, "Can I have this dance with you?" With a voice this sweet, one would be surprised if a girl ever turned him down. Unfortunately the disc then stalls. After "Bella," there isn't much to write home about, save for Angus' earnest and evocative "Just a Boy" and Julia's album closer "Here We Go Again," which draws most of its inspiration from a rousing harmonica outro.

Frankly, there are no songs on this album that are unpleasant, but one can argue that after awhile they all begin to meld together. This is not an indictment for mediocrity but rather a desire for a little more variety. Few songs rise above mid-tempo and the tone never varies. There's a hint of reggae in Julia's songs but that's about all. Is this a complaint? Not so much. Rather a mild gripe. Fact is, Angus and Julia Stone can flat out sing. And best of all, each one has their own identity and their own value. Julia's voice is wrecked and damaged, think Jolie Holland, Janis Jopln or Laura Marling. There's a moxy, a bold, arresting quality that's hard to put down. Is it for everyone? Certainly not. But is it original and captivating? Most definitely. Then there's Angus. His voice is smoky-sweet and incredibly comforting. Think David Gray, Sam Beam or Johnny Flynn. The songs themselves are campfire folktales that are achingly pleasant, hard-to-resist, gently sincere and most definitely first-rate.

As an added bonus, both Angus and Julia are wholly DIY. The tandem is involved in the production of their numerous music videos (they have at least seven) as well as the drawings on their album artwork, tour posters and more. The duo's drummer Mitchell Connelly also acts as the band's official photographer, and Connelly's brother works as the band's web designer. With work ethics like that and songs this good, the duo's potential is limitless. A headlining tour is most assuredly imminent. When it's all said and done, they just may be the best music to come from Australia. Sorry about that Keith Urban.

Recommended If You Like
: Iron and Wine, Bon Iver, Denison Witmer, Bob Dylan, folk perfection.

myspace.com/angusandjuliastone
www.angusandjuliastone.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
08:35 AM on 03/07/09
#2
EchoPark
promesas son sombras
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Excellent review.

I'm normally not a fan of the folk/singer-songwriter type genre but these two do it very well and with great sincerity with utter lack of pomposity or elitism. They quite often play a local pub near me and chat with people after the show.
09:14 AM on 03/07/09
#3
Gregory Robson
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Excellent review.

I'm normally not a fan of the folk/singer-songwriter type genre but these two do it very well and with great sincerity with utter lack of pomposity or elitism. They quite often play a local pub near me and chat with people after the show.
Thanks for the kind words. I think you are on the point when you mention their humility. That's certainly their greatest asset. I really am fond of their work.
10:07 AM on 03/07/09
#4
OKComputer1016
this is success-this is how we feel
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awesome review, especially the opening - good attention getting.

this lady's voice scares the fuck out of me tho! i like the dude's songs better, definitely.
10:20 AM on 03/07/09
#5
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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awesome review, especially the opening - good attention getting.

this lady's voice scares the fuck out of me tho! i like the dude's songs better, definitely.
Dude, Eric, you are so right. Julia can certainly take a lot of getting used to. It took me at least six or seven listens. It's no secret that Angus' vocal is the real ear-candy, but I like having Julia, cause she adds some variety and backbone to it all.
10:36 PM on 03/07/09
#6
hollyy.heart.at
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Just A Boy is my fave track :)
10:53 PM on 03/07/09
#7
Broden Terry
I'm glad I built myself an igloo
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This album is actually really amazing. Great review!
10:25 AM on 03/08/09
#8
whyte39
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australia is just full of great music
08:29 PM on 03/08/09
#9
whyte39
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and i love julia's voice. it is something different, but not so different that it hurts me.
05:15 AM on 03/09/09
cereal4life
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Good review man! Spot on that the songs can meld together. That said, solid album and a solid band that I very much enjoy.
10:23 PM on 03/24/10
Spikedeheld
...oh well
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Dude, Eric, you are so right. Julia can certainly take a lot of getting used to. It took me at least six or seven listens. It's no secret that Angus' vocal is the real ear-candy, but I like having Julia, cause she adds some variety and backbone to it all.

lol, I had to get used to Angus.. Julia's voice is what me got into their music

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