Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of Independent Spotlight, we delve into ‘For Once in Your Life,’ the new single from the Australian folk-rock duo July Morning. The band consists of Owain Roberts and Jesse Delauney. They cite a great deal of inspiration from the 1960’s, citing bands like the Beatles and Pink Floyd as direct influences. They also touch on Neil Young, and perhaps more obscurely, Radiohead. So, how does ‘For Once in Your Life’ place on the totem pole of inspiration? Let’s check it out:
The first thing the listener will notice from the track is the clean production. A lot of time, effort, and love have clearly gone into producing this track, and it shows. The instrumentation is beautiful and very solid. The fingerpicked acoustic guitar is sweet and vibrant, full of timbre. The guitar is accompanied by a growing arrangement as the song expands, changing keys multiple times and inputting new instruments along the way. A soft string section, bass, electric guitar, female vocalist, and thudding drum all emerge from the soundscape. The song continues to morph with the introduction of a mandolin and additional guitars. The amount of instrumental prowess here is incredibly impressive, to say the least.
As we’ve established, the production is really quite good on ‘For Once in Your Life,’ as is the musical performance. What isn’t so hot, though? To be honest, there isn’t a lot wrong with the track, rather, things that could be improved. Namely, the lead vocals seem a tad contrived, lacking some emotion and sometimes struggling to find a firm grasp of the pitch. When you draw influence from someone like Neil Young, you immediately have to have an appreciation for emotionally driven vocal performances. No one has ever accused Young of being a traditionally talented vocalist, just in the same way as Bob Dylan. With that said, both rank among the best singers of the twentieth century as a result of the abundant conviction in their voice. That kind of conviction isn’t as apparent here.
Even though the song draws inspiration from acts like the Beatles and Neil Young, it sounds more like a much later British Invasion style of songwriting: both lyrically and musically I’d probably align July Morning closer to Oasis than I would the Beatles. It doesn’t reach the pedestal of folk, rather it reaches the pedestal of fun, summer-esque, modernized pop-folk. Is that a bad thing? Of course not! That’s just where the band falls in the musical progression. However, the song does feel at times like a contemporary-church song. I’m not sure if that’s good or not.
Overall, it’s a solid song by a very talented band. Yes, it feels processed at times: the emotional side is a bit lacking, and it does feel like Chris Tomlin and Oasis merged together to create one pseudo-inspirational single. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but if July Morning wants to align more closely with their inspirations, they may want to reassess their direction. It’s a great song, though, one that is suitable to radio stations and summer playlists alike.
Check out the song and July Morning at their various links below: