Rising Toronto-based indie pop artist, Julie Neff, releases her brand-new single today, “Siren Call” – a track taken from her upcoming EP, “Over It” (out January 2021). With this release, the third single offered over the last four months – following “Over It” (Aug) and “Those Dreams” (Oct) – Julie demonstrates once again her passion and on-going commitment to creating and sharing new music, refusing to be sidelined by the plight of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I must confess that the arrival of this single in my email inbox brought a smile to my face. I mean, what are the odds that new music from a rising independent artist in Toronto would be received by an independent music blogger in rural Pennsylvania? Pretty reasonable odds, right, given the nature of communication between artists and the music media? Okay, here’s one for all the wannabe bookies out there – what is the probability that ‘said artist’ and ‘said blogger,’ separated by 400 miles and an international border, have already unintentionally crossed paths in person on a previous occasion? Ah, now you’re scrambling – this time the house does not win, and has to pay out. What were those odds again?
Back in 2018, Julie Neff happened to host a very intimate concert through Side Door, inviting singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge to perform at her Toronto home. As a budding musician herself, Julie would perform a handful of her own songs on that given night, including “Pick Up My Pieces,” which she recorded later that year as part of her 2018 “Catharsis” debut EP. Citing Feist, Florence Welch and Nina Simone as some of her primary musical influences, Neff, per her bio, wields her heartbreak into powerful hooks and driving rhythms, using them to heal the past and set boundaries for the future, with an unflinching honesty to lyrics that are imbued with themes both personal and universal.
By definition, a “Siren Call” is a powerful force, offering the appeal of something that is alluring, but also potentially dangerous – a theme Julie taps into from her own musical adventures and experiences during travels to Sweden, Spain, and Brazil over the last few years. “Siren Call is about the magic of meeting someone when you’re travelling and the ensuing reality that hits when the trip ends and you try to intertwine two very different lives together,” she shares. “I wrote and recorded an acoustic version of this song … but I always imagined creating a cinematic version … that really reflected the intense emotions felt in these situations.”
Do not be fooled by the light keystrokes and soft opening lines offered by Neff, who puts the listener at ease with her slightly smoky, honey-laced vocals: “Wrap me up in a warm embrace just to see my face just to close this space / And I felt you move from across the room with your big bright eyes you can feel it too / On your mind for the thousandth time running down your spine you can feel my eyes / Warmth it builds with a glistening, almost deafening.” Recall, instead, those cited musical influences, and prepare yourself for an all-out assault on your speakers that follows – the music intensifying as Neff gives her vocal cords a thorough workout – easing both the tempo and her variety of emotions periodically during this roller-coaster ride. “The song takes us from delicate warmth to hard rock to alluring harmonies and back again,” she adds.
As we have grown to learn about this artist, the music she writes features a sound that is at turns plaintive and heart-wrenching, energetic and hopeful. Equal parts strong and sweet, Neff’s melodies will pierce your heart and reverberate through you mind not only now, but for many more days to come. We offered you the disclaimer, did you not heed our advice about both the alluring, yet dangerous nature of the Siren Call – that seeks to captivate, to charm, to lure you in? “Draw them in with a siren call / Just to watch them drown / Just to know they’ll fall / Draw them in with a siren call.”