By the Horns
While most recognize her from her musical partnership with her brother Angus Stone, Julia Stone is now proving herself as a credible solo act in her own right. With her sophomore solo album, By the Horns, the “Big Jet Plane” hitmaker goes beyond merely declaring herself a capable solo artist — she solidifies a new identity both musically and lyrically.
Stone’s voice is an acquired taste — delicate, lacy, even airing on the side of cartoonish — and frequently used to punctuate her brother’s raspier vocals rather than standing on its own. But By the Horns is far more than a plain series of commas and apostrophes without the weight of letters and syntax. Her voice is not only showcased, but seems to triumph in its solitude.
The main themes of the album are rooted in the title track, where Stone frankly illustrates the corruption of love through male deceit and hostility, yet bravely declares “I believe in love” throughout the chorus. This sense of quiet triumph in the wake of frailty is woven throughout the album, and Stone showcases her ability to communicate lyrical depth beyond the vulnerability of her vocals alone. Most notably, she covers The National’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” where she lends a careful, feminine take to a song normally noted for singer Matt Berninger’s dark melodrama.
To those familiar with Angus & Julia Stone’s work as a duo, it may sound like there’s something missing in By the Horns. Having said that, Julia Stone offers a powerful recognition of her own exposure and weakness in standing alone, all while cebrating the triumph found in vulnerability.
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