EP Review: Julie Aubé, “Boiling Over”

Julie Aubé, “Boiling Over”

Don’t think that I’m asking too much / That I ever complain / When it was time to grow up / When it was time to call it quits / When it was time to say goodbye / How about that time I took a couple hits / Can’t you find a little heart / Just give me a head start / When it’s time to go.”

Sometimes, all it takes is for one social media post from a favorite artist to whet the appetite. This was certainly the case back in mid-February, when Moncton, NB trio Les Hay Babies announced a limited tenth anniversary vinyl pressing of their debut “Mon Homesick Heart” album for this year’s Canadian Record Store Day. Forget whetting the appetite, we’re positively salivating at the thought of trying to score a copy of that fabulous record for our collection.

A few weeks would pass following this revelation before that whole whetting of the appetite returned once more – this time due to receiving news that Acadian artist Julie Aubé from Les Hay Babies planned to follow up her 2022 “Contentement” album (Music New Brunswick’s 2023 French Recording of the Year) with her very first English language EP.  Knowing of Julie’s passion for folk-country and vintage twang, my senses were immediately on high alert, and having kept this five-track “Boiling Over” EP on repeat these past couple of weeks, I’m still reeling from that sugar rush high of a sensory overload.

Julie Aubé, “Boiling Over”

Officially released today, via Simone Records, this collection of tunes is chock full of old-school charm. The inviting nature of the simple snare taps and fiddle as the opening track, “I Won’t Let Your Love” bursts from the speakers, immediately takes me on a journey to my musical happy place – one filled with sentimentality and nostalgia as Julie’s soft, warm, almost-Linda Ronstadt vocal delivery pairs beautifully with the sounds of early George Strait.  All this needs now to take me totally over the edge is some vintage pedal steel – oh, there it is, complementing the fiddle and catching the attention of the square dancers out there looking for a quick ‘do-si-do.’

Of course, I’m a self-professed sucker for the timeless country ballad, so once “When It’s Time To Go,” made its arrival, well, let’s just say that the repeat button took a hammering much worse than any of Muhammed Ali’s opponents over the years. This gorgeous slow burner plays out as a time-tested waltz, with some dominant upright bass tones and steel supporting Julie’s Patsy and Tammy vocal cues. “I wish the clock would learn to mind its own / And them silly lying arms would find another home / To turn upside down everything / With that awful sound / I packed my things right by the door / So I could stay with you a little more / Just keeping each other warm…” And did I mention that steel?  This may sound a little bizarre, but from the first spin, I could see images of the state of Virginia’s travel slogan in my mind – you know, this one “is for lovers.”

While an EP is more a teaser than a main course, what I love about these five tracks is that Julie refuses to be simply a one trick pony. No, once she progresses into “Labour of Love,” we time-travel a little as the drumstick taps and guitar rings pay homage to the early 90s generation of country music. I’m drawing immediate comparisons to the sound of style of Alberta’s Mariel Buckley – who also has a natural knack to transcend generations – as this great Saturday night dance number plays out.

Julie Aubé, “Boiling Over”

Buckley’s influence continues into “Dime,” where we quickly appreciate how Julie’s increased vocal potency crosses with ease into Julianna Riolino territory. “She looked good for her age / And you trusted her like the gospel / She can turn on a dime and change her mind and not look back / She can turn on a dime she’ll be fine, just take another lap.” And you’ve got to love the additional Lucinda Williams style grit when Julie offers the repeated lines “We all get tired of driving,” before stamping an exclamation point with the beautifully penned close of “No one could blame her for that.” Sonically, the do-si-do fiddle returns, before yielding to the guitar wails that not only seek your attention but earn it easily.

While I have really enjoyed being privy to a pre-release copy of this EP – which has been a fabulous musical companion these last couple of weeks – I must confess that while a part of me really wants to hug and hold this one close to my chest for a little longer, I have to accept that it can be shared by everyone else now that it is officially released into the world. Vintage country fans – I urge you to give this one a whirl and allow Julie to rekindle some of your own guilty pleasures and/or distant memories. I can easily wax poetic about this stunning EP but shall instead quote from Julie Aubé’s official press release: “she sings from her gut in vintage folk-rock-country fashion, powerfully conveying her gratitude and love for her homeland.” Ok, now back to concocting a plan to snag that Les Hay Babies RSD release – stay tuned…

Photo Credit: Naomi Peters

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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