Entertainment for the Braindead – Roadkill
Another Entertainment for the Braindead release, another gushing review from me..? We-ell we’ll see about that. Roadkill is Julia Kotowski’s fifth release and follows on from a very fine tradition of Folk-Pop goodness which has marked her out as one of my favourite CC musicians, whose previous efforts still find themselves dominating my playlists from time to time. So naturally I approach any new release from the German multi-instrumentalist and all round talented type with a certain degree of enthusiastic hope, as well as high expectations for anything new to live up to.
Roadkill’s main innovation is EftB’s wholehearted embracing of the banjo, that finest of all instruments (at least when used in Bluegrass), a change which filled my cold, little heart with joy on first hearing about it. One of my favourite artists, one of my favourite instruments, who could ask for more? Did it work in practice though? Well, yes, and no. Julia still has a voice which possesses enough delicacy and haunting beauty to drag me in without too much effort and the interplay between her vocals and the sparse, ethereal instrumentalism remains in place regardless of the instrument, so the foundations of this album are strong at the very least. As to the new styles adopted for this album, I’m almost a little on the fence unfortunately. At times an element of coldness appears, a tenuous jagged edge which previously has usually been brought to bare by her voice alone but now it seems like a more musical affectation and whilst it succeeds to some degree it also leaves me slightly seperated from the fully indulgent listening experience which I generally hope to wallow in with Entertainment for the Braindead. It’s the difference between being lulled into an album and having it slightly forced upon you, a distinction I might just be making from the position of a fanboy howling at nostalgia or some imagined personal attachment to the music but one which I can’t help but note regardless.
The balance also drifts out of place with the general structure, Julia’s voice at times becoming an adjunct to the music as opposed to existing on a layer above it. Intended perhaps but there’s a sense that her vocals need more space to play out, given the undoubted quality they possess. It’s hard to be anything close to objective about it though I admit and, perhaps, I’m not best placed to write this review given my own biases and sense of what I *want* to hear.
For a fifth release there’s definitely an already well defined quality to Roadkill, minor variations and grudges aside this is very much a Julia Kotowski album. No bad thing in many ways but as has been seen with plenty of other artists a lack of radical evolution over the course of this many releases tends to indicate a set mentality which just isn’t going to change. Exactly where I’d want EftB to go from here I can’t say but given the astounding talent Julia displays it’d be interesting to see what she could come out with if she broke from her own genre orientated conventions. Not that I’d complain if more of the same was all that ever appeared, but the energy and passion I’ve always felt for her work may slowly shift towards a habitual fondness as opposed to something more dynamic.
To summarise though, Roadkill is, whilst not perfect, still the product of one of our movements most talented exponents. The album’s worth a download regardless of any criticisms I may put forward but if you’re a long time follower of Julia’s work then you may well find yourself returning to staple favourites before long.