Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Album review: JULIE FEENEY - Clocks

Highlights: Dear John, Moment, Worry

Pop music!

It’s not often that you get a chance to review a really good pure pop album. Over the past two years I’ve tried and failed on too many occasions. Some time ago I started writing about Norah Jones’ latest, but got bored halfway through. It was a decent enough little album, but not nearly as good as a few others released in that particular week. Then there is of course Lana Del Rey. Born To Die? “Video Games” remains a great song, the title track is half-good, the rest is about as interesting as colourless nail polish. Style doesn’t equal edge. And I’m not even mentioning things like The 20/20 Experience. Not even if my rave review would let me get a share of Timberlake’s royalties. Bad is bad.

And with Julie Feeney’s Clocks – I almost gave up 14 minutes into the album. It’s not enough that her covers are becoming less and less sexy (no, honestly – 13 Songs was terrific), there’s also a handful of songs that sound unforgivably bland. “Julia”, “If I Lose You Tonight” – lovely orchestration or not, these songs go on for more than 4 minutes.

However, three or four tracks aside, there are enough sparkling pop moments scattered throughout Clocks to keep me intrigued. One of the biggest is of course the opening single “Dear John”. The chord progressions are so obvious I don’t even know whether it’s okay to mention the source. I will – because more contemporary musicians should be encouraged to spice their mush with Pachelbel’s genius. “Dear John” is of course Canon in D Major, and it works. I think it would take some serious effort to screw it, and if you played that damned Vitamin C song for me right now – I would probably cry. Elsewhere, “Worry” is my bet for the album’s best song. A perfect three-minute pop song, it has vocal hooks you could imagine on some of those classic Kate Bush albums. I don’t think I’m physically capable of a better compliment.

I actually only learned about Julie Feeney’s existence two months ago, when I was in Dublin Concert Hall waiting for the performance of Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space. Portraits of Julie were everywhere, apparently she is one of Ireland’s biggest pop stars at the moment. Good for them: Ireland could do a lot worse (just think of two underage nitwits jumping all over the place). There is a certain lack of substance on Clocks, but all the same: this is orchestrated pop with an edge. Coming from Galway, one of the world’s loveliest places.


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