Track Review – Betsy On The Roof / Julia Holter

Julia Holter’s latest taster of her new album, Have You In My Wilderness, is a masterclass in piano balladry blended with goosebump-inducing orchestration. It sounds like an off-kilter Disney ballad and Perfume Genius at his most emotional. The lyrics are mysterious and ambiguous, with Holter begging ‘Won’t you please tell me the answer?’ during the emotional climax. The way the outro to the song works so well is because of three levels: The drums kick in low and steady, the multi-tracking of Holter’s vocals lead to harmonies drifting around the main vocal delivery, and finally the orchestration rises and rises as Holter sings ‘My arms stretched out’. It’s a genius song, forecasting some major leaps forward for Holter on Have You In My Wilderness.

The ambient soundscapes are vacant on the track, instead trading in the synthetic glitches and beeps that soundtracked Loud City Song for piano balladry and more traditional structures. The song doesn’t suffer from a paring back in Grouper-like experimentalism, it fact it seems all the more just ‘right’ to see Julia Holter sitting behind a piano exposing wounds. The instrumentation does get more experimental towards the end with spiralling pianos, synths and creaking audible in the quieter moments. If Have You In My Wildnerness is Holter’s most bare record yet, songs like ‘Betsy On The Roof’ could produce some beautiful moments.

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