Album Reviews

Angus and Julia Stone – Heart Full Of Wine

(Independiente) UK release date: 5 March 2007

In the nullifying throng of suburban industria you sometimes long for deep pastures and shorelines, rolling hills and foaming horizons. The cold hands of apathy can grip you and threaten to never let go, but hearing something like this can bring you slowly back to life.

Heart Full Of Wine is a warm and mysterious mini-album somewhat in the vein of Ooberman’s humble 2001 masterpiece Running Girl, flickering with light and wonder in the midst of urban desolation. The LP comes intricately packaged in a two-CD sleeve that reminds of the pioneering presentational days of the esteemed Sarah Records, artfully shaded in soothing scenes of nature and black and white decorative flourishes.

There’s also a picture of Angus and Julia, seated on the step outside a country abode, Julia leaning laconically on her brother with a glint in her eye, he staring pensively into the distance, and another clue is softly dropped with regards to the warm pastoral musings to be found inside.

Though the album is split over two CDs, the real contrast here comes in the dual contributions of Angus ad Julia. Julia is an intriguing concoction of Bjork-like quirkiness and Laura Veirs like-soul, and her songs tend to be outlandish cuts of anti-balladry, while Angus is at heart the most earnest of troubadours.

Acoustic strummers are currently off to man chasing rainbows held at one held by Jos� Gonz�lez and the other by Damien Rice, but Angus truly walks the line of unfettered memory and tears exclusive to a poet. His Mango Tree twists and ebbs with the gentlest melody, and Fooled Myself is an introspective ballad that lifts off into typically brilliant tempos and immaculate layers of percussion and guitar. A traditionalist’s dream with an original heart.

Opener Private Lawns meanwhile grooves with Julia’s deep folk and hip hop inflections, an easy flair pointing her out as something that little bit different, while All of Me, with its starry-eyed acoustic lines and poignant twists, is a moonlight ode that burns with the fevered poetry of longing.

There’s lots of good underground pop about at the moment, but not too much of this kind of stuff that bends with melody like an old oak tree in the wilderness. Angus and Julia have that knack of spinning intricate webs of intrigue rather than building easy monuments, and Heart Full Of Wine is a consummate example of their twin enchantment.

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