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 afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on American singer songwriter Julian Kelly, a performer with a brand new record out entitled ‘Alive.’ Her music is chock-full of introspection, political and social commentary, and particularly unique vocals performances. Let’s delve into the single from ‘Alive,’ a tune called ‘Fish of Plenty,’ and see if its indicative of a record worth listening to in full.
Kelly cites influences the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, and those roots are immediately apparent in ‘Fish of Plenty.’ The single is a vehicle for her voice, first and foremost. A frequent criticism that I levy at modern independent vocalists is their inability to let their own voices shine. Their music often gets weighed down in intensive production and processing. Kelly, however, avoids that entirely and presents her song the way a tune like this deserves to be showcased.
‘Fish of Plenty’ is scored by a delicate, lovely piano. That’s the extent of the instrumentation, and I absolutely adore that. Kelly doesn’t hide behind walls of sound or extensive post-production. Her vocals are stunning, and the brevity of the musical performance allows them to shine. Her falsetto croons, which are reminiscent of Houston’s signature style, are steeped in emotion and passion. She’s living the song, and it’s a powerful performance as a result.
Lyrically, ‘Fish of Plenty’ is equally splendid, if not somewhat bittersweet. “I think you are strong, you say you are weak, but you are a treasure that’s not for me to keep,” Kelly sings in the finale of the track. It’s a farewell of sorts to a relationship, but one that isn’t hostile or aggressive. The song’s tone, oddly enough, reminds me of ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.’
This is a gorgeous single worth taking a listen to. If this track is indicative of the quality of the rest of ‘Alive,’ it’s very likely an album you’ll want to take a peek at, too. Kelly’s raw performance on this single is immensely refreshing, and I’d love to see more of that from artists in the independent community.