Over 30 years since her debut album, and some two-dozen records featuring her name on the spine now – I’ve worried that Juliana Hatfield was in some sort of holding pattern for a while and now reduced to little more than a gimmick with first her Olivia Newton John covers project and then The Police one – but in the middle of those bookends, from earlier in 2019, is this wee gem of original material.
Good to know our lady is still out there and making hooky, noisy pop – particularly as she’s been something of a figurehead for Soccer Mommy, Lucy Dacus and a bunch of this generation’s “girls with guitars”.
From the overt metaphor of Sugar to the throwback-pop of Lost Ship this feels less rushed, and not at all half-baked, which has been the case with some of the recent Hatfield albums; this one feels like vintage material – some of it even going back to the wow-days of the Juliana Hatfield Three and her Lemonheads contributions; effortless pop hooks (Staying In) and the voice still full of longing and ageless (It’s So Weird).
Where we have had anniversary editions for Liz Phair and news that Alanis Morrisette will again milk her one album and Garbage is back and all of that, it’s encouraging to hear some solid new songs being added to the canon of one of the consistent voices of that generation/era of music.
Eleven songs in 37 minutes – including some great rockers (All Right, Yeah) and buzzy little pop songs (Baby Doll).
There’s nothing on here to blow you away. But it’s tight. And it’s good. And sometimes that’s not only all you need, that’s far better than you might have expected. My favourite song right now is Receiver. It’s the sort Hatfield has written before (and hopefully will again). It’s deceptively simple and I feel better in my life for knowing it and having it. That’s far better than just alright and quite good.
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