Julia Holter: ‘Have You in my Wilderness’


The Appalachian Online

Abi Shaki

In the midst of transition between summer and fall, the music of Julia Holter works to strip away the outward light of summer and flirts with fall. Holter’s latest album, “Have You in my Wilderness,” is an ode to her own inward reality, whereas past albums referenced literary works of Euripides, Virginia Woolf and Colette. She explores her personal endeavors of loss, solitude and heartbreak.

The Los Angeles based singer, songwriter and pianist fuses electronic, pop ambient and indie music into her work, much like artists Tori Amos and Enya. “Have you in my Wilderness” is the most pop sounding album in her archive. Holter becomes deeper in touch with herself, asking questions about her life and receiving less answers. A translucent film of ambiguity coats every song. Holter’s voice, strikingly similar to the sultry voice of Nico, weasels into the deepest crevices of the mind and sends curious butterflies to the heart.

The carefree sounding first track “Feel You” incorporates the harpsichord of the 16th century baroque period with an angelic group of voices, creating a soft pop ambiance. Holter acknowledges her tendencies to run contrary from lucidity. “You know I love to run away from the sun/ Is is time to dance?/ I’ll fall — you know I like to fall.” “Feel you” explores chamber pop at its most accessible. “Everytime Boots” uses the same angelic choir, like a synth pad guided by a brisk walking beat, and raises questions such as “Can you bring me/ A fresher perspective please?”

Unanswered questions hold sway through Holter’s more dark and dubious tracks like “How Long?” The song incorporates an underlay of soft string instruments played in a minor key. The same tone carries over into “Lucette Stranded on the Island” and “Night Song;” darker tracks with an overwhelming sense of melancholy. The consistent layering of chamber voices and breezy synths resemble acts like Beach House and Deerhunter, except Holter’s songs are more fitting for more nocturnal pleasures.

“Vasquez,” the most haunting track on the album, demands full attention from its listener.  It captures Holter’s most confidential of lyrics, presented by half-speaking and half-singing. “Let me tell you/ About faces I see/ The stately, the rugged/ Over and under.” The tone is similar to “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound.

“Have You in my Wilderness” is Holter’s rawest work. It honestly conveys her conscious from start to finish. The album elegantly fuses string acoustics, soft synth-laden textures and angelic choirs, creating a template for a most intimate and demanding listening experience. The album ends with its title, leaving one last opened ended question. “Tell me, why do I feel you running away?”

Closure for Holter carries onward with the leaves of fall.

Story by: Abi Shaki, Intern A&E Reporter