Julia Stone – Thekla 8/10
AUSTRALIAN indie singer/songwriter Julia Stone, taking a break from her much acclaimed duo with younger brother Angus, has released a new solo album and was in Bristol as part of a lengthy solo European tour.
South Devon's Ryan Keen, who opened the show, was making a very quick return to the venue where he headlined his own show in the upper deck bar only a week ago. With his very impressive percussive guitar style, strong melodic songs and quiet husky voice you could see why he has been attracting all those "next big thing" comments.
Julia Stone came on stage accompanied by a keyboard player, bassist and drummer but on her first song she added trumpet accompaniment.
Most of the songs were from the new album but there was a nod to the duo's back catalogue with And The Boys, a song she always sang solo on duo gigs. One of the biggest reactions was to her version of Better Shape Up from Grease, which, slowed and stripped down, worked surprisingly well. It wasn't the only cover, for there was a very different version of The National's surreal Bloodbuzz Ohio and a jolly jazzy reworking of Just Blew In From The Windy City that sounded a world away from the Doris Day original.
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The big numbers however were her own songs notably Somehow, the brush-off song By The Horns and Let's Forget All The Things That We Say.
Her voice has a surprising range, her performance was full of drama and the songs were loaded with anguish, heartbreak, vulnerability and pain and sung from the heart with real honesty. Yet between songs she was very funny and the closing number, a close-harmony version of the old Temptation's classic My Girl was full of giggles.
Whatever may happen with the family duo in the future, Julia Stone has more than enough class as a performer in her own right.