Published Sep 23, 2015Four short years ago, Julia Holter emerged from Los Angeles as a music school graduate, eager to compose her own mini symphonies. Her debut album, Tragedy, was a self-produced revelation, fusing ambient textures, chamber and experimental pop into one bewitching package that she somehow managed to outshine on her subsequent releases.
Have You In My Wilderness is Holter's fourth album, a collection of ballads exploring "love, trust and power in human relationships" that feel like they were composed by a completely different artist than the one that made Tragedy. These songs aren't only her most intimate yet, but also her most fully formed. The enriching production by collaborator Cole Marsden Greif reined in the more wandering directions of Holter's two previous albums (which he also produced), meshing the organic and synthetic sounds seamlessly while avoiding any predominant concept for a more simple, intimate approach.
Pushing Holter's voice to the foreground, the bulk of songs here are flooded with melodies. In fact, the harpsichord-led "Feel You" and "Sea Calls Me Home" both share the same affinity for classic '60s soft pop as the late Broadcast, who also weaved such heavenly hooks into their avant-garde tapestry. There is an urge to classify Have You In My Wilderness as Holter's most pop-minded album, because it is, but it's not conventional pop by any means. With help from bassist Devin Hoff and sax man Danny Meyer, she turns "Vasquez" into a dazzling cosmic jazz odyssey in which she sing-speaks about being set adrift, while luminescent strings singlehandedly push "Nightsong" into an icy dreamscape.
While her two previous albums, 2012's Ekstasis and 2013's Loud City Song, were more loosely structured and experimental, Have You In My Wilderness finds Holter narrowing her focus a little. In doing so, she gets the best of both worlds, showing off her ability to write warm and breezy pop music while maintaining the complexity, and perplexity, that made her so intriguing to begin with. (Domino)