In this review – we’re gonna take a look at the brand new album from French artist Juliette Jade (Valduriez), which is titled ‘Constellation’.
It’s no secret that we are long-time fans of Juliette – and there’s a fair chance that if you’re tuning in to this video, you’ve become a fan of hers as well. Further to that, if you ARE a follower – you’ll most likely be aware that this new release has been two years in the making – and follows on from her debut album released back in December 2016 which was titled ‘Terrarium’.
Since taking the world of YouTube by storm back in 2010 – Juliette has long since ditched doing cover versions of other artists songs, preferring instead to focus on writing and recording her own material. And over time, she has now developed into someone that I consider to be one of the most exciting, unique performers around, and this second release from her does not disappoint.
Album opener is the song Fall and it picks up from where her aforementioned debut album Terrarium left off. Straight away – I’m mesmerized by what I would describe as that distinct ‘Juliette Jade’ sound – soft, haunting vocals over a flowing melody which drift effortlessly into a stinging guitar solo. There’s also a pureness to this song – found in many of her compositions – which is of course part of the charm. Actually I think the well-crafted solo from Fall was uploaded to YouTube some time back, so many of you may already be familiar with it, and it’s very cool to hear it in its entirety.
The appealing ‘Baby Doll’ is up next and rocks. It’s an up-tempo track which wraps distorted guitar around dark lyrical content and was one of the first tunes on this release to instantly catch my ear. I love it.Now two of the most compelling tunes on the album – which may in fact be my personal favourites, are the atmospheric Abyssal and another song titled Dawn. Abyssal is sung in french and after a few listens, I’ve determined it’s something pretty special. This track allows the listener a moment alone with Juliette Jade’s near fragile vocal delivery, most impressive on the line ‘elle est maléfique’ – which translates into English as ‘She is evil’ – and again on the lyrics ‘Tes griffes de cristal’ – ‘Your crystal claws’ in English). At the 3.06 mark – the tranquility of the tune makes way for one of Jade’s slashing guitar solo’s, to maximum effect. I really dig this. Dawn is another album highlight – it has a similar feel to Abyssal – and if you like tunes with thought provoking, sorrowful lyrics wrapped in melancholy – then you’ll find this one very appealing. All lyrics on Constellation – as was the case with its predecessor Terrarium, were penned by Juliette’s sister Cati – who clearly possesses immense songwriting talent. I also wish to importantly mention, that the guitar solo on Dawn and on most of the other material is effective, well crafted and not overplayed. For me, that’s important. Whilst on that – make an effort to listen out for the cool guitar tempo change towards the latter stages of the song Remember which is a fine example of Jade’s skills in song arrangement.
Y’know a fellow podcaster recently asked me who Juliette Jade sounds like….and I had no fast reply. Why people feel the need to draw comparisons with other artists has always been beyond me, but nevertheless I gave my friend a listen and he threw some comparisons back at me which I found intriguing – but among several names only two made me sit and contemplate…and those two were Marissa Nadler and Sharon van Etten. If you are not aware of those two artists, go search em out.
Now I can KINDA hear how he drew those comparisons, yet there is obviously no stinging guitar work with those artists and I am of the firm belief that Juliette’s distinct sound – as I’ve stated previously – is all her own – and with some solid label backing and a slicker production, she could really make her mark on the music world.
Halfway though the album their is a short instrumental track called ‘Shadows’ which provides somewhat of a placid intro to the following song – a frenzied offering called Not Sorry. What struck me about this song is the inclusion of a tempo change and a slowed down and purposeful pause at around the two minute mark – before the song suddenly roars back into life via a flash and lightning guitar solo. Folks, if you’ve become a fan of Juliette Jade through her fretwork, then the solo alone on Not Sorry is well worth the price of the album.There’s a lot of class running through this material, and that is quite possibly most evident on the tune Le Semuer. Co-incidentally Le Semuer (or The Sower in English) is the title of a French film released last year, it’s also a famous work of art by Vincent Van Gogh, and it is now – in my humble opinion – also one of the classiest compositions which Juliette Jade has yet produced. It’s a dreamy tune down that is extremely captivating and another one that highlights Juliette’s alluring and haunting vocals. Not to mention the blazing solo which rendered me speechless. More people need to hear this. The french word for ‘stunning’ is étourdissant and there is no better adjective to use for Le Semeur than étourdissant.
To summarise – Constellation is a compelling 9 song gathering – one that – for me – really does shine the light on an exceptional artist who seems to get better and better with the passing of time.I’ve always been of the belief that if you really want to listen and really get to know a recording – it’s best done privately and quietly with a decent set of headphones – and only then, if the material is something special, as is the case with Constellation – will it go straight to you soul. You are not just hearing the music, but you are experiencing it as well. This is one of those albums that you need to experience.
This new album gets two thumbs up from me and if you do not already own it, please visit juliettejade.bandcamp.com to purchase your copy for only seven euros.
Back on show #71 of the ARS, we had Juliette on the phone for a fairly detailed interview – so if you have not already done so, go back and have a listen to that episode.