Angus and Julia Stone – Down The Way

Angus and Julia Stone, the brother-sister band from Australia, deliver in their sophomore release Down The Way a collection of thirteen songs of cutting edge singer-songwriter music.  The beauty of this record lies within its simplicity.  There’s no glossing over with special effects, nor is there any hint of over-production here.  Just pure organic music with all sorts of charming surprises along the way.  Returning fans of their first album A Book Like This will find an even better produced effort, but still following the same mantra of “less is more”.

I found Julia’s voice to be reminiscent of Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer, only with an even more natural innocence to it.  The duo evenly share lead vocalist responsibilities, keeping the sound fresh and insuring the listener never gets bored – a plan that works quite well, I might add.

“For You” is a fantastic example of the depth of their writing, as well as a wonderful song.  In the chorus alone, we hear the lines, “If you love me with all of your heart.  If you love me, I’ll make you a star in my universe.  You’ll never have to go to work.”

My favorite track out of the bunch, though, is “Santa Monica Dream” by far.  It’s a beautiful acoustic ballad that sounds like it was recorded outdoors (at least in the opening and closing where you can actually hear the air).  Its charm rests in it’s bitter-sweetness, drawing you into an intimacy you won’t want to leave when it ends.

Following is another fav of mine, “Yellow Brick Road”.  It’s deceivingly simple as it’s just vocals, guitar, and some piano used sparingly for about the first two minutes.  Then the drums and bass come in, and you realize this song is packed with so much unexpected soul that you’re taken off guard in the best kind of way.  You go from liking to loving the song in an instant.  The electric guitar solos in the middle and end are just icing on an already perfect cake.

Down The Way is a record that can be played and enjoyed from beginning to end.  If you like singer-songwriter music with an ethereal flare, Angus and Julia create some of the best in the genre.  Some songs are better than others, but you won’t find any fillers.  Other key tracks:  “The Devil’s Tears”, “Hold On”, and “Big Jet Plane”.

~ by carlitoreviews on August 7, 2010.

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