Juliana Hatfield: Peace and Love

RIYL: Aimee Mann, Tracy Bonham, Carina Round

Juliana Hatfield has had a long and creatively varied musical career. She evolved from her ‘80s jangle rock roots with the Blake Babies, into the tough, confessional rock of her alternative ’90s, before becoming the mature singer songwriter of the current decade. Along the way she was involved in several side and supporting projects, making hers a quite prolific career. A career in which not only did her sound transform, but also her thematic and emotional content. The Blake Babies were intelligent college rock, while her early solo work was both emotionally raw and confident. As she failed to break it really big, her music became tinged with a sense of bitterness, especially on her 2000 Beautiful Creatures and 2004’s In Exile Deo. Excellent albums that explore broken relationships and addiction, anger and no small amount of self-loathing.


But times change and her music continues to change along with it. Progressing through two more solo works and a published biography, she has reached 2010 at a different place in her life, and Peace and Love is clear evidence of this. Stripped down to a quiet and mostly acoustic sound, Hatfield is still unafraid of the intensity of her emotions, but is more accepting and willing to be heartfelt in their expression. Peace and Love is a minimalist collection of 12 songs that performs a very difficult task. These songs sing of love and heartbreak and loss without any sense of resentment or cynicism, instead showing a mature positivity and acceptance without falling into schmaltzy platitudes. She asks, “Why Can’t We Love Each Other” as an honest question, lacking any resignation. Even when she sings, “I’m Disappearing” with a fragile vulnerability, she is refusing to give in to any inevitable dissolution.

Peace and Love is just Juliana and her guitar or piano with minimal effects, pouring herself into a surprisingly inspirational record that is never pat or preaching. What might seem at first to be a darkly solitary album turns out to be subtly strong and affirming. Excellent work from a master songstress that should open new doors in an already amazing career. (Ye Olde Records 2010)

Juliana Hatfield MySpace page


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