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ALBUM REVIEW: "Wild Animals" by Juliana Hatfield

Ye Olde Records
"Wild Animals" is the new solo disc from Juliana Hatfield.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Juliana Hatfield – Wild Animals (Ye Olde Records) 2013

With simple production and instrumentation, the latest, fan-supported release from Massachusetts alt-rocker Juliana Hatfield, Wild Animals, is an 11-track record of songs that fully allow Hatfield’s lovely voice and characteristic vulnerability to really shine.

Armed with her acoustic guitar, Hatfield’s heart-on-the-sleeve delivery and stripped-down sound work particularly well on songs like “June 6th.” This reminds me of her early solo work, as evidenced on 1992’s Hey Babe with tracks like “Ugly.”

And when Hatfield incorporates an uncomplicated drum beat, for a song like “Spit in the Wind,” Hatfield’s voice rises above and takes hold of a simple-yet-surprisingly gripping song.

Hearing a jaunty track like “Parking Lots” – complete with bass solo(!) – actually brought to mind It’s A Shame About Ray-era Lemonheads, sans the full rock arrangement (or a druggy, dreamy Evan Dando).

Take the push pin out of my cranium,” Hatfield repeatedly sings over a busy strumming and a synth-y beat on the infectious, two-minute-long “Push Pin.”

A basic organ can be heard at points during “Never Beg,” a song that doesn’t stand out, particularly, but does have that sweet-ish and quirky Juliana quality that bewitched so many of us so long ago.

And there’s a breeziness to “Love Is Like The Wind” that is instantly appealing. That said, Hatfield isn’t really breaking any new ground here. Perhaps that’s why it sounds so good. She is giving listeners pretty much what they expect from a latter-day Juliana Hatfield record.

I have followed Hatfield’s career since her days with the Blake Babies. Their cover of The Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes” remains a particular favorite. That said, I have tried to follow her music career as best as I can. Clearly this 46-year-old is determined to continue making great music, on her own terms. And now with outlets like Pledgemusic, where fans can donate money to help fund the creation of a new album (I recently did this with Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz’s new album Walt Whitman Mall).

And as a reminder, Hatfield and Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws have teamed up as the duo Minor Alps. Their debut album comes out Oct. 29th.

Earlier this week, Red Dirt Report featured a “Dust Devil Dreams” post incorporating synchronicities involving the music (and more) of Juliana Hatfield, particularly regarding her 1993 Juliana Hatfield Three album Become What You Are. Anyway, it’s worth a read.

For more information on Juliana Hatfield, go to www.julianahatfield.com or check out a cool fan site Live On Tomorrow at www.liveontomorrow.co.uk.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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