Review: Julie Neff, “Over It”

Julie Neff - Over It

Toronto, ON indie pop/rock/R&B rising artist Julie Neff formally unleashed her latest six-song, genre-blending EP, “Over It,” to the world just a week ago.  I say ‘formally,’ as we’ve previously been treated to the title track (released last August), “Those Dreams,” (October), and more recently, “Siren Call,” as singles.  The welcome release of three additional tracks adds further sonic dimensions (rather than mirrors) of what we have already heard, and surely hints towards the realisation of a full album in the not-too-distant future. 

What is immediately striking is how polished, urban, and well-produced Neff’s music sounds.  It very much feels of today and will, I suspect, resonate strongly with a female audience in particular, although there’s just enough vulnerability and fragility within her lyrics and vocal deliver for all listeners to find endearing.  This tough and tender duality, as first discovered on her debut EP, “Catharsis,” draws on an experience of realising that you need to abandon certain life-limiting relationships in favour of building a more satisfying tomorrow.  Neff very quickly brings these same life-lessons to the title track: “You wanna be, everything, you see in me / Build me up, push me down, so carelessly / But it’s not my job to soak up all your pain.

“This recording plays with the tension of frustration and resolution.  It’s about that time in your life when you’re stuck in a job or a situation that has worn you down, burnt you out, hurt you, and you know you need to leave, you’ve had that clear epiphany but you don’t know how yet,” Neff states. “I want this EP to do for others what it did for me. To help put a stake in the ground, to articulate why things aren’t okay and maybe take a step towards changing them. I want these songs to be an outlet for the anger, hurt and frustration that we all feel during this process of deciding that enough is enough, and learning to create healthy boundaries in our lives.”

Julie Neff

If “Over It” draws from the same emotional well as “Catharsis,” the sound this time around is more fully realised, perhaps in part because Julie invites artist friends such as 3-Card and Tiz McNamara to collaborate here with her.  It may also perceivably reflect the fact that she has taken her music into such diverse places such as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, and soaked up the culture and influences of those journeys along the way.  Either way, she’s crafted a genre-blending sound free of the constraints of indie rock in favour of more contemporary soundscapes, a recording of crests and troughs, a flowing synchronicity of music, lyric, and vocal delivery.  It’s an interplay of contrasting styles that also speaks of her growing confidence as an artist.

Within the six songs found here on “Over It,” Neff has harnessed the raw and tumultuous energy produced by upheaval, and instead of stumbling over it, has used it to energize and propel her sound and artistry forward.  You can hear the wielding of heartbreak to powerful hooks and driving rhythms, and the way that is being used to both heal the past and set boundaries for the future.  Whether you need to simply have a good cry, or to belt out your frustrations, Neff’s music is here to accompany you, and for that, we should be ever thankful.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Duncan

Music has been a lifelong passion, a journey that as a child embraced the late 60's counter culture and has lasted until the present day. Despite trying to play guitar for the best part of 45 years, to his own frustration, never much beyond the first four bars of “Stairway to Heaven.” A self-confessed vinyl junkie, his other interests include collecting music memorabilia, old Muhammad Ali fight programs, and watching film. He lives alone in Nottingham (England) and still uses the term “Groovy” - these two facts may be intrinsically connected.

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