Julie Collings,
(Perrito, 2006)

I've been eagerly awaiting this woman's debut album for some time now, just like you did when you were a kid waiting for the sweetshop man to get the new jar of cola cubes.

Julie Collings is from Derby, she writes songs and plays the guitar. She works in a drum shop. She likes cinnamon-flavoured chewing gum. BBC Radio 2's Janice Long played her on her show recently. I saw Julie live last year and her songs were as crisp as they sound recorded. I was impressed. But can she make a good first album?

The answer is yes, and "good" just isn't enough of a description to do the job.

I'm really glad that Julie has decided to incorporate other sounds and instruments into her classic acoustic style. It makes for a very haunting, dreamlike quality. "All Else" is the hello track -- it's electronica personified and works brilliantly with her voice, one of my favourites. "Side Eye" is like a seesaw of sounds, kicking off then moving quickly into a mellow place; I think this has a great hook that really reminds me of Juliana Hatfield.

"Flotsam" is taken from the demo and, having seen this live, I can say it's a testament to Julie's voice. It's funny, listening to this album; it has a very otherworldly texture making Julie's material seem timeless. "The Last Post" is very poignant, awesome use of falsetto; it's lovely if I can get away with using such a Grandma term.

I was looking forward to the "Simple Things" track, also from the demo, and this has top radio potential. I could totally imagine a string quartet behind it in the bridge. This was the song that made me think that Julie can and will make it (plus it made me book her for an event I run). The album finishes with the ghostly "Follow You," sounding gospel in parts and quite hypnotic. Altogether an experimental venture into the mind of Julie's music, Flotsam is poetic, moving, soulful and all recorded in her spare room. While the rest of us keep boxes for eBay in ours.

by Jo Overfield
26 August 2006

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