Will There Really Be a Morning

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Heaven knows why it has taken me so long to write a little something about this album, the newest EP from friend and soul sister, Julie Lee. Julie and I met several years ago at a friend’s house and found immediate ease in conversation and a unique connection; sparks of light and magic hung lightly in the air around our collision. It was one of those instances where you know for sure that the God of the Universe meant for you to meet this one particular human being out of the millions that He created. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but I like drama (the good kind only, please) and am grateful when I find it happening in my little life.

Julie is a consummate artist. She makes cornbread, she makes aprons, she makes songs that make me feel all brand-new, she makes art out of other rusty, splintered and otherwise used/aged things. If I ever knew a kindred spirit in 2736629475_23a9445164-300x2951creative expression, it is she. The night we met, we discovered — stumbled upon, really — an extraordinary alignment in our art’s paths. We will each vow to this day that we had never seen one another’s work and yet, here we were, looking at each other (and each other’s handiwork) as though we’d found our long lost twins. Her art is called “Truth for Twine.” Unique, evocative, rich.

I ran into Julie at the Americana Folk Festival back in October. I slid unsuspectingly into a tent in the Artist Village (what a nice place that would be to take up residence) and there she stood, in all of her handmade-aproned-glory — just the cutest sight you ever saw. She’s got dimples which I covet deeply, sweet, clear blue eyes, and a lilting, musical, truth for twinetwittering laugh. She’s entirely charming. While we sat discussing her latest musical musings, I inquired about her next work which I knew was due out soon. I had been waiting impatiently for quite some time for her next issue, you see. In true Julie form, she pulled a copy of her *yet unreleased* EP out of her quilted bag and handed it to me on the sly, refusing payment.

Dear reader, had I known what this music would do for my heart and soul, I’d have wrestled her to the dirt floor, hog-tied her (gently) and pressed a fresh fifty into her palm….but really, how can I put a price on such enchanting creations as Julie has wrought?

The record’s opener, “Petit Bebe,” twinkles and dances with windchimes, echoing guitar, and Julie’s ethereal, soft cooing. I imagine a sunlit morning, a mother with long ropes of chestnut hair twisted about on her head and dressed in light linen. She cradles her small child and prances barefoot through the dew beneath boughs of bright, new green growth in a grove of birch trees. I sound like a complete loon.

Track two, “Morning,” is a gorgeous, more deliberate continuation of the peaceful lull of the previous track. The lyrics are from an Emily Dickinson poem, and among my favorite lines from the album are these:“Oh some scholar, Oh some sailor, Oh some Wise Man from the skies! Please to tell a little Pilgrim where the place called ‘Morning’ lies!” The tune meanders delicately in and out of intensity. It glitters.

She advances further into Dickinson territory with track three “Hope’s The Thing With Feathers.” “And sweetest in the gale is heard; and sore must be the storm, that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm.” What a comfort is found in these words, and what a beautifully rendered portrait of Hope, set perfectly to an ardent melody by Miss Lee.

The gem, the real darling of this record in my estimation, is track five, “The Other Half.” It diverts from the warm-hued opening songs and takes me to a dark wood shadowed by verdigris, ultramarine and indigo. It breaks my heart and makes me ache in a place where I’ve never been wounded. It’s a song about the anguish of divorce. In her words, melody and instrumentation, she brings me a sense of sorrow that I hope I never have to feel in earnest. A plaintive tune, a single horn, low and soft like an old friend’s reassuring tone, and her lyrics: “The memory makes me cry, makes me think of you, of your kiss so slow, of your eyes so blue; What you said to me, whispered in my ear, made my knees go weak, filled my eyes with tears…” It is difficult to write about music like this without finally just saying with much conviction and a dash of frustration, “Just listen to it. You’ll feel it all.”

julieleeThis brilliant lineup of eight tightly-knit songs rounds out with more melancholy than sunshine and settles me in a thoughtful, relaxed state. I am a firm believer that, if we think about it, each of us tends toward certain albums which serve as fitting soundtracks for life, depending on the seasons’ turnings. Songs have a way of meeting us in the strangest places, painting lovely scenes in our heads, healing our hurts, making us grin or sigh, and drawing us back to the One who first created the medium and its masters. And here, my dear Julie has masterfully and tenderly created yet another accompaniment just for me.



8 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Evie Coates

    Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    She’d probably turn the tables with a surprise ninja move and best my steel anyways — like I said, she does it ALL. It occurs to me that I neglected to tell you where you might obtain her music — the silly girl’s not on iTunes….go to her myspace page and surely all of you savvy folks can figure it out from there.

  2. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Great review, Evie. Julie Lee is amazing, and I don’t use the term lightly. Her vocal control, her dynamics, her ability to bring the listener into the sonic atmosphere of the song, and her ability to play with simplicity and excellence make her one of the best singer-songwriters out there.

    And I’d also like to say it was good to meet the one and only Evie Coates this week. Next time I’d like to do a little more visiting, if you please!

  3. Profile photo of Evie Coates

    Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    “Sonic atmosphere”: how do you paint the words upon the page (screen) so efficiently and eloquently? Sheesh. All of that “wordiness” has done you a few favors along the way.

    And indeed, Ron, we have not been in situations very conducive to visitness, have we? All of that pesky prayer and worship really got in the way this morning. ((lightning bolt))

  4. Leanne

    This sounds wonderful. I’ve never heard of this woman, but you sure make it sound enticing to get to know her work! Love the style of your writing, too, Evie. Thanks….

  5. Stacy Grubb

    Evie, I am just dying right now. Something inside of me loves Julie so much that I can hardly contain myself when her name is mentioned. “Will There Really Be A Morning” slayed me when I first heard it. I mean to tell you, it slayed me. I cried and I didn’t know why. Before I knew it, I was crying and I didn’t stop until the music did. I think it was during her just absolutely stunning piano solo that I actually said aloud, “How did she get to be so beautiful?” And I would like to share a song I wrote in the hour that followed my first listen, not to plug my own self, but to demonstrate the impact Julie and her music left on me.

    Hope Has Wings by Stacy Grubb
    Dedicated to Julie Lee

    How did you get to be so beautiful?
    So wonderfully wonderful?
    Just look at all you are and do
    Giving my hope a bird’s eye view
    Wouldn’t I be so glad to be just like you

    You singer of songs, you dreamer of dreams
    You maker of art and beautiful things
    Weaver of words with melodious strings
    Reminding us all that hope has wings
    Reminding us all that hope has wings

    Oh, you’re just what my broken soul needs
    Floating hope on the wind like little seeds
    Many waters much stronger than I
    Cannot drown hope when it takes to the sky
    So, you gave it feathers and taught it to fly

    You singer of songs, you dreamer of dreams
    You maker of art and beautiful things
    Weaver of words with melodious strings
    Reminding us all that hope has wings
    Reminding us all that hope has wings

    I’d spoken to Julie many times through email and My Space and had the absolute good fortune of meeting her a couple of weeks ago when she helped organize a benefit show and silent auction at the Station Inn. While passing by me, she overheard me asking a lady a question about the auction (at which I purchased a Julie Lee original) and she began answering. When I looked up and saw that it was Julie, I just grabbed her and, like a complete deer in the headlights said, “Julie……it’s me.” As if that was supposed to mean something to her. But because she’s as wonderful as she is, it did mean something to her and she knew who I was and if she hugged me once, she hugged me 15 times that night. It was an all around amazing night for many reasons and when my husband asked me what was my favorite part, I thought about it and said, “I guess it was meeting Julie and not being disappointed. She really is that beautiful.” When she took the stage, again I cried. I was dumbfounded. I could go swimming in that woman’s voice. But I don’t have to because she uses it in a way that just envelopes the air as it passes through. I just don’t know what to do with myself when I listen to Julie. Sadly enough, as I tried to get my picture with Julie before leaving, my camera, for the very first time ever in the few years that I’ve owned it, just wouldn’t work. So, I’ve got no proof that I actually did meet her, which only seems fitting since it was sincerely a dream and is stamped in my head as such.

    I’m so thrilled to see this review here as it could not be more true or more deserved. “Morning” will forever be an album of poignance and, though I’ve written a bonified essay here, words just aren’t enough. If you don’t own it, make it a point to change that.

    Stacy

  6. julie Lee

    ok! enough already……ya’ll are crazy! Crazy sweet! crazy wonderful….and crazy talented…….we serve a goood God!
    and I am greatfull for all the attention you’ve given this new ep……by writing this evie!
    i wanna you when i grow up!
    miss….i gutted my own airstream trailor and changed out the engine in my vintage truck and made sweedish meatballs to boooooot!
    uhhhhhh!
    yer the amazing one…..
    so there!
    hiiiiiii yah!……(that was my ninja move)
    xoxoxoxo
    julie

  7. Jennifer Parker

    I love this! Julie is one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life. Ever. She is just incredible….you really are Julie!! And that’s on top of being crazy talented. I can’t even begin to explain how much Julie’s music has touched me…she has been such an inspiration to me. What a lovely musician, artist, and just a lovely person!! And I agree with Stacy….what an incredible album. I could go swimming in her voice as well too! Julie hugged me at least three times after us talking on myspace for a while and signed my uke, and my paid first gig included me playing “Away Down the River” (which Julie wrote) and playing my uke. I still can’t believe all that happened two years ago. Anyways, Julie, you are a beautiful woman of God and just all sorts of awesome, and I hope our paths cross again soon.

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