steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Julia Powell

"Music Swims Back To Me" CD


Genres: classical, modern classical, experimental

195 Three Oaks Drive
Athens, GA 30607

Oct 21 - 27 2002

Music Swims Back To Me is Julia Powell's most recent work and it serves as a collaboration of sorts with poet Anne Sexton and singer Ellen Ritchey. With the help of a small chamber ensemble, Powell's compositions are rendered in a beautiful and mysterious way.

The album starts with the title-track, which poses Sexton's spoken poetry over a dark, cinematic layer of seeping strings and subtle piano notes. The poetry itself is wonderfully unique, bizarrely personifying music ("Music remembers better than me.")

"The Wonderful Musician" is definitely one of the album's most memorable pieces, with traditional classical elements being interspersed with more experimental concepts. When Ritchey's amazing soprano starts up, the beauty of the piece truly shines through, with the cheerful composition hinting at something dark and forewarning. The track goes through a number of shifts in mood and style, including an excellent climax halfway into it. Similar to "Musician" is the reprise of the title-track, which hits the most powerful forte of all, bellowing out "turn" over and over to amazing effect, with the clenched strokes of the violin adding even more tension to the mix - only to be suddenly plummeted into a creepy ambiance by way of a dark, damp piano chord.

Another wonderful track is the last piece, Bach's "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled," in which she enlists the talents of a church chorus. Its graceful melody tastefully closes off a powerful, enchanting album.

If you are at all interested in modern classical music, this album will certainly appeal to you. Both dark and beautiful, Powell's compositions make for fantastic listening.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 7 tracks; distributed by the label; released 2002]