Until The Lights Fade
Juanita Stein has really solidified her role in the world of desert folk-rock in recent years, and tries to expand what that means to people in her new music. While blending tones from different sides of rock, folk and psychedelia she creates this kind of magical feeling in her music while tapping into time-tested writing that makes it all accessible. While it doesn’t necessarily offer as many distinct moments as it could, this is an endlessly listenable record.
Stein slowly lulls you into the world of her album on “All The Way” as psychedelic hazes begin to wash over her entrancing vocals. Between the punchy rhythms in her vocal hooks and the little interjections she offers, there’s a lot of memorable moments to pull from. Delivery and style make all the difference on “Forgiver” as Juanita elevates a simple indie-rock stomper into something truly exciting. The dreamy breaks however will serve as the more divisive change in pace for the track, as they strip away enough of its momentum to feel a little off.
“Get Back To The City” plays with an open range of arrangements, as Stein centers a folk story around a kind of ether of sound. With some classic vocals hooks on her hands, Stein makes sure to make her choruses count here however and save the lack of weight in the mix. As Stein leans right into the country overtones of “In Your Hands” she really plays with the smoky qualities in her voice. While it has the presence of some filler country, she really delivers a unique voice to the writing and performance.
The pianos and sway of the guitar provide a sort of demented swing on “Cool” that emulates the sort of disorientation that Stein describes in her own life. Though there’s not the strongest sense of dynamics to play with, there’s enough tonal shifts in the instrumentation to emulate that feeling. Hidden amongst the darkness and familiar melodies of “Release Me” there’s a strong desert rock song that avoids convention. By mixing in a few traditional hooks, Stein allows her slow-paced track to go on.
Theatrical is one of the many ways to look at “Silver Linings,” where a simple bit of synth turns every sound Stein works with into something unnerving. While it sticks inside its main groove, there’s a mesmerizing quality to its sound. “Easy Street” almost feels like Stein taking over a new project, with a fun new direction. Though it rides her sandy tones, there’s something more guitar-rock and even punk to it.
Though it seems the most true to her sound, “Fast Lane” feels like the most predictable track of the record. This said, in her comfort Stein really plays with the vocals to make a lot of fun riffs as she sings. By fading this right into “French Film” he also achieves a kind of Lana Del Rey energy to close the album with something that feels very noire and interesting for her sound in particular.
Words by Owen Maxwell