Over two years ago, I discovered a treasure-trove on YouTube. A collection of painstakingly recorded covers: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kasabian, Oasis, the Brian Jonestown Massacre. A musician calling herself “Juleah” evidentally had very similar music taste to me, and her covers were incredible. Her music was bluesy and dark but carried itself with an alluring sweetness and meticulous attention to the conventions of psych and shoegaze. Who was this woman? She played most if not all the instruments herself and edited each take into one video. Where was her band? Where was her fanbase? Where were the interviews, reviews and tour announcements?
Not long after I fell upon and obsessed over these videos, I found out Juleah was planning on creating and releasing her debut album. Talk about timing! I was thrilled – anticipating amazing things based on her music taste alone. And I was not disappointed. When Shimmering Road was released online in 2013, I was blown away.
I reviewed the album and was lucky enough to interview Juleah, but what I didn’t include in this article was the fact I had played the album on repeat for days prior to its writing. Or that I had posted her music all around the internet, telling everyone I knew with an interest in psychedelia about this amazing album and incredible woman. When it came to the article itself, I felt lost for words. I can still remember sitting for hours at my uncle’s kitchen table, agonising over each word I wrote, irritated and unsatisfied I couldn’t express just how seminal this release was.
My obsession with Shimmering Road lasted months, and I still adore it to this day. It, along with Juleah’s self-titled EP and second album Entangled and Entwined (2014), regularly fall into high rotation in my listening schedule.
Despite working professionally full-time, Juleah has once again found the time and energy to keep up with her album-a-year level of output. Melt Inside The Sun was released earlier this month as Juleah’s third full-length album. Importantly, this is Juleah’s first physical release. Available on limited edition vinyl and CD, Melt Inside The Sun is being distributed by Konkord Records in Europe and Rough Trade Records in the US.
Melt Inside The Sun is everything fans of Juleah could’ve wanted: acknowledgement of her past and a confident nod to the future. Blending bluesy rock & roll with hazy shoegaze decadence as perfectly as usual, Juleah has also reinvented herself. Melt Inside the Sun trades some of her signature reverb-soaked guitars and faraway vocals for a new and more mature soundscape. More than maturity though, Juleah has found attitude. Confidence seeps through every pore of the album, from the swaggering guitars and half-spoken lyrics of ‘Wild Machine’ (“They thought you’ve gotta be kidding, right?”) to the country zest of the one-minute Flower Gunshot.
Even the more downtrodden tracks are grounded in a solemn sense of calm. Indeed, an album highlight rests in the slow and introspective ‘Strom Aus Licht’, one of two songs on Melt Inside The Sun which see Juleah singing in her native German for the first time. Both ‘Sommertraum’ and ‘Strom Aus Licht’ are a pleasure and a treat, but the latter is – quite appropriately for a song about the sun and planets – otherworldly. With the enchantment of Juleah’s sweet but sultry vocals, and the pulsing, reverberating guitars so central to the song, ‘Strom Aus Licht’ sees the seeds of Shimmering Road come into bloom.
Though of course steeped in Juleah’s all-important psych leanings, Melt Inside The Sun is a decidedly brighter affair than past releases. Songs like the charming ‘Beautiful For You’ and upbeat ‘Love Psychosis’ display an urgency of positivity unheard in previous releases, while ‘Sommetraum’ takes Oasis-like strings and delicate effects to create a gentle grandness the album frolics in.
As her crispest, sunniest and most diverse release to date, Melt Inside The Sun has gained more attention than any of Juleah’s albums so far. Several reviews comment on the warm and bright nature of this release coinciding with the European summertime. But let us not forget those, like me, in the Southern Hemisphere. Having enjoyed Melt Inside The Sun on repeat for the past few weeks, I can say with confidence that this is an album with a warmth as suited to winter as it is summer.
Melt Inside The Sun, like its title song, is warm, bold and bright. It is, however, nuanced with the darker honesty and gentle tenderness Juleah has built her legacy on. And what a legacy she’s building.
I can’t explain the feeling of sheer joy and odd pride I felt holding this album in my hands, years after wishing this were possible. This pride was of course undeserved, because everything Juleah has achieved is down to her own ambition and perseverance alone. Still, holding Melt Inside The Sun felt like I’d come full circle. It felt like validation. That the world is cottoning on. That Juleah’s fanbase will continue to grow, her music continue to evolve, and that even people on the other side of the world can hold tactile evidence of this incredible musician’s incomparable efforts.
Now, a question. Can a digital album be reissued physically? That’s a question Konkord might want to ask themselves. I’ll be first in line for any other Juleah releases, but I nominate Shimmering Road be validated first.