Julie Feeney - Clocks (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
JULIE Feeney has created a name for herself because of her eccentric output. Third album, Clocks, is no exception. It’s an acquired taste but it does deliver some nice moments.
Adopting an avant-garde approach, the songs on this LP remain rooted in classical music, yet straddle both the pop and theatrical worlds. While doing so, Feeney narrates wandering stories of romance, bravery, tragedy, lust and heartbreak, to a backdrop of meticulous multi-layered production.
Things start well with the cute Dear John, which underlines the eccentricities inherent in Feeney’s vocals. The chorus is extremely lush, particularly when she sings “what a fantastic day”, while the background instrumentals adopt the kind of orchestral pop background that Enya would have been proud of.
Cold Water again combines harps and violins with an almost fragile, ethereal vocal that enchants.
But Julia is tender in the extreme, its subtle classical backdrop conjuring images of snowy landscapes. Feeney’s vocals, meanwhile, are stark and striking.
Just A Few Hours is quietly passionate, allowing piano to provide the focal point early on, before slowly layering in a more classical (and stirring) backdrop. Again, the Enya comparisons seem particularly pertinent, especially once the layered vocals add an echoed feel to the chorus.
There’s a change of pace to the more pop and playful on Galway Boy, which has to rate as one of the most instantly accessible and melodic offerings on the LP. It’s an ode to romance that’s deeply romantic.
Thereafter, the second half of the album becomes a little less accessible. The instrumental arrangements are fewer and further between with a greater emphasis on Feeney’s vocals seeming to take centre-stage.
Initially, this offers up great moments. If I Lose You Tonight is deeply poignant and very stripped back.
But Moment follows a similarly understated approach, as does Imperfect Love. While even a track such as Happy Ever After, which adopts a bouncing central harmony, outstays its welcome amid fairly repetitive lyrics. And that’s despite some engaging bird-like whistles and tweets.
Feeney is, without question, a likeably unique singer-songwriter. But Clocks is an album of great moments more than a satisfying whole.
Download picks: Dear John, Just A Few Hours, Galway Boy, Julia