Julia Stone - The Memory Machine

Natalie Salvo | Sunday, 16 January 2011

Julia Stone - The Memory Machine

Julia Stone has been one busy songbird of late. Working with her brother, Angus, they've toured relentlessly and released a bunch of EPs and two studio albums. Their 2010 record Down The Way and single 'Big Jet Plane' were named Album and Single of the Year, respectively in their homeland Australia by the ARIA board. In 2009 Angus released his solo album, Smoking Gun under the moniker Lady Of The Sunshine and now it's Jules' turn to keep the prolific writing bar high with her very own debut.

The Memory Machine was recorded in New York in late 2008 and she describes it as being: "Mellow but darker and spookier in tone," perhaps a by-product of her own gloomy head space at the time. Without her brother by her side, Julia appears to inhabit a very melancholic place, even though musically things are not far removed from the less-is-more style folk the duo are synonymous with. This is particularly evident in the opening track, 'This Love' where she sings about feeling her lover's heartbeat with her uniquely-naïve vocals.

Over ten tracks Stone offers us plenty of folk-rock that shares a few things in common with Laura Marling, Kimya Dawson and Feist (however, Stone's creations are executed with a far more sombre tone). There are some variations to this dark theme, namely in the poorly titled, 'Catastrophe' because with its upbeat rhythm it is one carefree romp and exception to the heavy brooding found elsewhere.

Stone prefers to traverse dark territory with her lyrics referencing: insecurities, broken hearts, loss, sorrow and regret. She uses twee words and delicate instrumentation to expose her fragile heart and soul while remaining minimalist and heartfelt. Also accompanying the record are liner notes boasting handcrafted Hollywood poster images starring Miss Stone. And while these share a few things in common with her lovingly created tunes, unlike the movies The Memory Machine isn't about happy endings.

Rating: 3/5