Julie Amici & Dean Mueller release intimate LP
Though Americana isn’t known for boasting the beastliest beats around, that didn’t stop Julie Amici & Dean Mueller from riddling their new album I Loved You So with some of the sexiest grooves on either side of the Mississippi this April. In tracks like the enigmatic “Hot in the City,” lush “Frame it on the Wall” and searing “I Wanted You,” rhythm is as big a role player as any other component in the music is – from the guitars to the vocals and back to the subtle basslines that emit understated textures in the background. For Julie Amici & Dean Mueller, leaving unutilized space in the master mix just wasn’t an option when constructing I Loved You So; here, efficiency, much like evocative musicianship, is of paramount importance at all times.
The strings tell us a story all their own in “Read Through Tears,” “Sardines and Saltines,” “Flannel Shirt” and “Turn the Key,” and had they not been beefed up by the equalization, I’m not sure that they would have been as expressive an element as they undeniably are on this occasion. Where words can’t equate the broader emotions that Julie Amici & Dean Mueller are trying to impart to the audience in these songs, the guitar fills in the edges with an emotionality that even the most stirring of poetry could never get across to us, no matter how talented the singer translating it into melodic treasure may or may not be. This duo’s contemporaries could stand to learn something from their attention to detail, and more importantly, their adherence to simplicity over unnecessary complexities.
To me, I think that “Daddy,” “Hot in the City” and “I Wanted You” were crafted for the stage more than they were a studio setting, and although I enjoyed each of these songs in the form they’re presented to us in I Loved You So, my gut tells me that they would sound a lot more potent before a live audience. There’s so much heat in the harmonies of “Hot in the City” and “I Wanted You” in particular, and while the mix compensates for the limited space they’re afforded here fairly well, these tracks have unquestionably inspired me to try and see Julie Amici & Dean Mueller the next time they’re in a city near me (mostly to see how well their studio presence translates in person).
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Julie Amici & Dean Mueller are fresh faces in the hierarchy of the American underground, but in I Loved You So, they show off an undeniable potential that is bound to have even the harshest of critics raising an eyebrow this spring. From the rustling grooves of its title track to the somber strings that adorn its closing number in “Read Through Tears,” this is a record that hurls plenty of surprises in the direction of listeners, but at the end of the day, for all that it lacks in predictability it more than makes up for originality and a charming melodic nucleus that isn’t as common in modern music as it used to be.