Julie Christensen
The Price We Pay For Love
Wirebird Records

Free-Thinking, Mature, Occasionally Poetic, Certainly Jazz Influenced; Uneasy Listening And Always Fascinating and Heartfelt

Although she’s been recording and touring for many years now; Julie Christenson only came to our attention a couple of years ago with her 11 BY KEVIN (SONGS BY KEVIN GORDON) album which we loved to little bits.
Here she mixes and matches some of her own songs with some fascinating re-makes of some Classic songs from a wide variety of musicians and songwriters.
You get her drift immediately with a spellbinding version of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira; a brave choice and far from an obvious choice of songs to cover from Ms Mitchell’s extensive back catalogue.
The original is a deep and challenging song in its own right; but Julie takes it and adds her own stardust; courtesy of her 7 years alongside Leonard Cohen and rings every single piece of raw emotion out of the words and darkly droll arrangement.
Just as you are regaining your senses and possibly drying your eyes, Goldbridge Road appears and barely lifts the mood; although Sergio Webb’s occasional slide-guitar will make you wide eyed and possibly legless too.
As with the rest of the songs on this album; the arrangement is deceptively simple; allowing Julie’s rich voice to swoop and soar like a bird of prey; but when you listen more carefully you will appreciate the textures that the various musicians bring to the party time and time again.
One of my favourite; if not my actual favourite singer of all time is Joe Cocker; someone who interpreted the songs of others and virtually made them his own (this isn’t open to debate) and one of his songs that never fails to take my breath away, even now nigh on 50 years after it was released is The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress; and it turns up here and …. well, Julie Christensen strips it back to bones and sinew and like Cocker; finds something new to gnaw on as she deconstructs the words of Jimmy Webb and leaves the listener absolutely breathless.
While you will more than likely find this album in the Americana section of a record store; that over simplifies what is on offer here; just like Hejira which opens the album, songs like A Remark You Made, Away With Words and Hilltop, which closes the album; all owe more to the Dinner Jazz scene than they do Laurel Canyon or Greenwich Village; but you can’t rule that either in the construction and delivery.
This album isn’t always an ‘easy listen’ and nor is that Julie Christensen’s intention ….. this is a beautiful collection of songs primarily aimed at connoisseurs of quality music; regardless of its pedigree.
For my selection of Favourite Song I’m torn between two very, very different songs here. The deconstructed rendition of Stevie Winwood’s Blind Faith Classic; Can’t Find My Way Home is simply staggering; baring in mind it only features piano and lap steel guitar alongside Julie’s marvellously restrained vocal performance.
The other; and song that probably tips the balance in her favour is How He Lost Her; an intense love song/break up song from the pens of Julie Christensen and Wendy Waldman and perhaps it was just me, but on the fourth time I played the album it attacked my nervous system unlike anything I’ve experienced in years which is a good thing btw and therefore my Favourite Song here.
There is so much to like and appreciate here; but only if you have an open and free-thinking mind as it’s mature in every which way, occasionally poetic in structure, certainly Jazz influenced; ‘uneasy’ listening at times but always fascinating and heartfelt.

Released 14th April 2023


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