28 Mar 2023

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Juliet McLean - EP Review: Amaze Me

24 Nov 2022 // A review by Jack Grabham

A very introspective offering here from Taranaki based singer/songwriter Juliet McLean. The EP Amaze Me, named for its promo single release, is not my usual cup of tea - however, I have said before that music is a subjective creature and a thing of beauty to me might not be so for you... and vice versa.

Don't read my first paragraph as too much of a negative. Juliet is a performance keyboard and singing teacher at High School level, plus a tutor at Song Writing School NZ. The lead vocal is delivered as a mature, full and rich sound, and sits perfectly in the mix. The mix itself, and mastering, were by Ben King (of Goldenhorse production fame) in his own Auckland-based studio. I can assume Juliet provided the keys, while Ben himself has provided a plethora of the other instruments. Drums were provided by Tom Broome (Tom has played with Tami Neilson, Teeks and others). Greg Johnson provided the brass.

The six songs are all slow-tempo, some more so than others. The mood it engendered in me was reminiscent of the first time I heard Coldplay's Parachutes album. Not a record for a road trip, but definitely something for a late night when you're missing someone and you feel the need for some company that can quietly soothe you. It's laid back, and there's an underlying jazz feel to an Indie pop outer shell. Stories are being told, and the lyrics are well considered.

Technically astute orchestration, a great balance in the mix/master, and while all slow, nothing is boring or drags. All six tracks just exceed the magic three minute mark each, and wrapping a storytelling video around any one of them will make a compelling single out of it.

The first single is also called Amaze Me. I like the hard bottom end that comes in, and the melody is memorable. This is followed by the tribal drum intro of Burnt Out. Very relaxed vibe, great orchestration. Third track Overlooked drops the tempo further and introduces the track via a sole piano. Next comes We Know, which starts with a tangible flowing vibe, and has a groovy backing vocal. Then comes Love Remains, which has a pumping bass intro that I liked a lot, and a pleasant surprise with an organ in the mix. Final track is Iris Beside Me, another good and memorable melody atop some piano.

As mentioned, all are fairly to very slow tempo. If it's what you like in a body of work then Juliet has delivered it for you here and this is definitely not something to bypass. Personally, for a body of work that's EP-sized or larger, I prefer to hear some higher energy material there too. Don't let my subjectivity stop you though, if you're into the smoother vibe this EP offers, it's defo for you.

I'd considered awarding three stars based on the tempo thing, but I would be being pedantic. Technically astute, each song individually works a treat - but I'm dropping from five stars to four based on my sole gripe.

Save the blessing for the final ring!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Juliet McLean

Singer-songwriter Juliet McLean was raised and still lives in Taranaki under the steady presence of Te Maunga O Taranaki beside the ever-changing west coast sea – a perfect allegory for this continually evolving, talented artist.

A gifted storyteller, her song's poetic themes straddle the bittersweet paradox of human experience in love, life and family.

After the release of her debut EP The Dance in 2015 and LP Unlash the Boats in 2019 - under the moniker, 'O Juliet' - her focus turned away from the work of studio production back to the craft of song writing and solo performance.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Juliet McLean


Amaze Me
Year: 2022
Type: EP
Unlash The Boats
Year: 2019
Type: Album

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