Juliagrace
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Juliagrace

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand | INDIE

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand | INDIE
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"More than just surviving"

am no music aficionado – so definitely don’t go asking me for my opinions on musical talent or composition. I can’t sit and listen to an album and liken their musical styling to a list of artists. In fact I can give you very little advice, direction or wisdom at all when it comes to an album review. But lyrics are my thing – I like a solid set of lyrics that you can hang your hat off. And I like a good old sing-along – songs that demand you to march along with them. And, like the best of us, to go off my gut.

And “guts” is why I like the latest offering from Julia Grace, 'Beautiful Survivor'.

As a fan of hers from back in her days as lead singer of the electronica band Elevator I was eager to hear her second solo album. And it was everything I had expected from a woman with “guts.” The album is open and honest, a wide spread offering that invites you into life in all its highs and lows, disappointments, and triumphs. From the opening refrains of ‘Thanks to You” to the final refrains of her cover of the Academy Award winning song “Falling Slowly” there is a beautiful vulnerability that draws you in and holds your attention.

There are some definitive highlights.

The title song “Beautiful survivor” has that elusive quality of popular songs, that ability to make you think you already know it and have you singing along the very first time you listen to it. And this is a quality that is echoed in the song “Perfect Reason” - a song that made my toes curl with pleasure and, like the lyrics, may just give me “the perfect reason to stay home instead”.

And while it might seem unusual to end an album with another artists cover – “Falling Slowly” is the perfect ending to this melancholy celebration of the human spirit.
- Athalia Bond, thread.co.nz


"JULIAGRACE: Beautiful Survivor"

AC artist Juliagrace’s sophomore album has been five years in the making, and from the opener Thanks To You, which draws you in with wistful and whimsical melodies, it is evident that it has been a lovingly crafted project. The touching lyrics and soaring vocals fuel the strength of ‘Beautiful Survivor’, helping to create the general atmosphere of courage across the album’s 10 tracks. Drawing from personal experience in her songwriting, each of Juliagrace’s folk-based songs tell an enchanting and honest story. Producers Nic Manders (Brooke Fraser) and Parachute Music label mate Brad Dring have achieved a warm and inviting sound which expertly conveys the intimacy of the songs. Having had this album on repeat in my car all week, I can wholeheartedly say that it gets better with every listen, and as the themes deepen in meaning. This is an album that keeps on sparkling until the final note. - Amy Maclaine, NZ Musician


"Juliagrace: Beautiful Survivor"

One problem with being identified as a "Christian artist" -- as so many have discovered -- is that there is a resistance to them outside that market, and because of that many simply give up and stay with the audience which has and will support them.

The other problem is that it means many outside of Christian circles are denied hearing some exceptional singers and songwriters -- most of whom who have no overt Christian agenda in their lyrics.

One such is the captivating Juliagrace who has a clear and confident voice, a sense of humour (see the clip below) and writes songs which have neatly ambiguous meanings: they may be songs of faith -- as in the chorus of Thanks to You here -- but equally they can be read as secular.

Certainly she delivers one of the finest songs about the joy of family life away from the social parade of weekends (Perfect Reason), and with discreet orchestration here to give further emotional uplift to songs like Open Window she proves that she can not only write but deliver with warmth and conviction.

Shifting easily between alt.folk (the reflective Stitched Up, the interesting Sweet Emily with a hint of early Joni Mitchell) and open-hearted pop balladry, Juliagrace -- a mother of two I believe -- brings a maturity of lyric and thought to these songs which is uncommonly observant and sympathetic.

The sorrow-filled yet optimistic Diamond here is . . . well, a gem actually.

And I'd bet you could slip this in front of a couple of dozen people and not one would know she was a regular the Parachute festival . . . or that her debut album won the New Zealand music award in 2006 for best Christian/gospel album.

They would just hear a terrific singer-songwriter with a mainline to classic pop ballads and thoughtful lyrics.

A note to about the packaging: as much care and attention to detail has been applied to that as the songs and production. Which enhances the sense that this as fine an album from a local singer-songwriter as you are likely to hear.



Added: 23 Aug 10

- Graham Reid, elsewhere.co.nz


Discography

Beautiful Survivor (2010)
1- Thanks To You
2- Beautiful Survivor
3- I Don't Know How
4- Open Window
5- Perfect Reason
6- Stitched Up
7- Leaving Today
8- Let It Go
9- Diamond
10- Falling Slowly

Juliagrace (2005)
1- Tin Cars
2- Carry Me Away
3- Never Be Alone
4- Beautiful One
5- Why Is She Crying
6- Reflection
7- Electrical
8- Wrapped In Plastic
9- Stars
10- Grace

Photos

Bio

With a twinkle in her eye and lyrics that promise “a diamond out of every stone”; Juliagrace is a serious artist with serious appeal. The plucky mother-of-two embraces her down to earth experience with beautiful songs and sparkling wit, engaging audiences all over the globe.

Playing piano and singing to packed audiences since childhood, Juliagrace’s career has spanned the genres; from her edgier days in electronica group Elevator to her more recent brand of acoustic-tinged folk. Now, drawing on talent honed from years on the stage, she is a successful solo artist in her own right.

Her debut solo album was released in 2005 and caught the attention of music aficionados everywhere, with its strong hooks and musical quirk. Garnering a New Zealand Music Award in 2006 for Best Gospel/Christian Album and four #1 hits on national Christian radio, it repeatedly features on popular Kiwi TV drama ‘Shortland Street’.

Her iconic voice has wowed crowds at the last five Parachute Festivals, and now resonates over a more organic sound than her previous hi-tech samples, with its raw strength and clear tone shining through.

2010 sees Juliagrace releasing her sophomore album BEAUTIFUL SURVIVOR, which features 10 melodic tracks that touch on embracing times of pain. Her message: “That in amongst the madness, momentum and minutiae of life, there is always hope. You have to look out for the beautiful moments.”

Never shy of a crowd, Juliagrace sparks with onstage banter. Her storytelling abilities and natural rapport enable her audience to feel right at home. Close to her heart are issues about loving the skin you’re in and being a woman of confidence, no matter what your style, shape or circumstance. Her healthy perspective has given her a regular circuit at women’s events around the world, and she has toured North America and Australia, and visited Cambodia as a World Vision Artist.

Her gritty honesty is the anchor in each of her songs. Without flounce or flakiness, here is a songwriter who opens her arms to embrace both life’s beauty and its realities. Woven with the musical influences of Sarah McLachlan and Jewel, Juliagrace’s slice-of-life storytelling is the gem that sets her apart.