Nothing beats music with soul. No matter what genre or style, every song has the capability of providing story and emotion through its lyrics or sound. Australian brother-sister duo Angus and Julia Stone do just that on their self-titled album. After going solo for a couple of years, the siblings decide to collaborate once again and create a record that’s dark, spirited, raw and sweet all at the same time.
This album takes Angus and Julia’s bluesy folk style to the next level. Many tracks feature sharp and distorted guitar riffs to convey an old rock sound. The opening track “A Heartbreak” includes all aspects of this style. The lyrics (“I met your parents / They were lying about falling in love”), choppy vocals, and soulful melody capture a tone that is displayed often throughout the record. They use rugged sounding instrumentals a lot to tell their stories.
“Heart Beats Slow” uses strong words like “I’m gonna miss you and all of the things we should have done” to paint the picture. However, Julia’s mysterious and lingering vocals bring it to life. Her dreamy sound steals the spotlight not only on this track, but many others as well. She also does an outstanding job on “Death Defying Acts”, which is certainly a highlight from the album. She adds to the dark tone of the slow guitar by intensifying the instrumentals with her haunting voice. The album consists of a couple tracks that only include Julia’s or Angus’s vocals, but Julia’s really power through. She kills it again on “Main Street” as well. The chorus may be a bit repetitive, but that won’t stop the listener from falling in love with her unique voice. It definitely seems her solo work has improved her skill. Angus has his moments as well; “Crash And Burn” closes the album with smooth ambience. The distorted guitar riffs and clashing instruments give his voice a chilling power that can’t be forgotten.
While these empowering rock and roll tracks clearly have a strong impact on the album, Angus and Julia balance this power with another similar, sweeter style. One of the first tracks with this mood is “Grizzly Bear”. The unique-sounding instrumentals and soothing tempo make this quirky duet a warmhearted addition to the album. It’s easy to see the idea of these lighter tracks as well; themes of love and strong relationships are present on tracks like “Wherever You Are”. A soft acoustic guitar and lyrics like “Don’t take my word for it / Just look at me to know that I love you” can melt any hopeless romantic’s heart. Even “Get Home” has a hopeful feeling to it thanks to the upbeat and rural instrumentals, although the sense of a long distance relationship is in play. Especially on this track, Julia and Angus use their duet power to get a strong feeling of longing. Angus’s vocals are more dominant, but Julia’s backing vocals make her sound like she is in the distance that Angus is trying to reach.
After such strong solo work, it is no surprise that Angus and Julia Stone are back and better than ever. Every element of sound, vocals, and lyrics is thoughtfully balanced and measured to give each track a vivid personality. If you have liked any of their previous work, you will love what these siblings have in store on their self-titled.