Julia Darling is one of those rare artists who can build a career out of the shadows of the label system. With a crystal clear voice and a lyrical style that is at once poetic and approachable, Julia shines as the voice of the urban singelton. Raised in New Plymouth, Julia left home at 18 with a dream to perform.
She started out a short-lived career as a dancer but when she bought a guitar and taught herself a few chords she found her passion was for writing and performing music. After a few short months making a living as a street performer on Acland Street in Melbourne, she was discovered by a record executive and quickly signed to a deal.
The record company brought her to New York and matched her up with a top producer and proven back up musicians. After months in the studio her album was met with glorious reviews... and lackluster sales. Darling's contract was not renewed and she found herself stranded in New York, with no hits, no producer, no manager and no label.
For many artists this might have been the end of the story, but it would not be the end of Julia Darling. "Getting dropped from a major label was the best thing that ever happened to me," she muses. "It gave me the chance to write the music that I really wanted to hear." Newly independent, Darling was able to explore the New York music scene on her own terms. "It was good to be around people who were really focused on the music instead," says Darling of her new Gotham friends.
She saw the huge gap between signed and unsigned musicians in New York. At first she played half-empty dive bars but word spread about this captivating young artist and she soon earned a following. On her own, Julia was waiting tables at The Cutting Room to make ends meet, she was writing music and performing, growing as an artist and growing up.
Her self-titled new album took shape as a collaboration with friends, financed by a few loyal fans. "I think there is something true and timeless about this album because we made it with the right intentions," says Darling "All we were focusing on was producing good songs." The 11 songs span a range of emotions and styles but all are inspired by the people who were close to her.
The first song, 'Let's Do It Again,' sets the tone for the album and for her new direction. She sings "Let's do it again just for the audience," and goes on to give her own audience just what they want; honest, intense Julia Darling. Her lyrics express raw candor about the new life that she has found for herself, sex and relationships and the unglamorous truths of life in the city. In 'Supernatural', and 'By Your Side', she paints vivid pictures of falling in love and making friends in the streets and tunnels of New York.
The music is both extremely personal and very relatable. Darling finds inspiration in the songs of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Leonard Cohen, describing their songs as emotional stories cloaked in poetry. She wants her audience to hear her songs not as her story, but as their own.
The tale of Julia Darling took another turn this year when she signed on to Stanton Street Records the upstart independent label, from the owners of the now-famous Living Room, where the early careers of Norah Jones and Jesse Harris were nurtured. With her new album, she introduces a new, stronger, wiser version of herself. In one song, 'Wake Up', Julia recounts her life as an unknown musician, admitting that she practices autographs on unopened envelopes.
Listening to this collection of catchy, smart pop tunes, one suspects she'll be putting all of that practice to good use someday soon.
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