Juliana Hatfield Announces New Album of Olivia Newton-John Covers

I’m ridiculously excited about this! My earliest memory is my older sister playing Olivia Newton-John vinyl albums. Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John will be released on April 13th and features all my old fave ONJ songs (mostly from Xanadu).

Track List:
I Honestly Love You
Suspended In Time
Have You Never Been Mellow
A Little More Love
Totally Hot
Don’t Stop Believin’
Please Mr. Please
Hopelessly Devoted To You
Dancin’ ‘Round And ‘Round
Make A Move On Me
I Honestly Love You (Reprise) *CD, Cassette & Digital Only.

Bonus 7-Inch Tracklist:
Deeper Than The Night
Heart Attack

Pre-Order Album @ Record Label (every format from cassette to colored vinyl)

Juliana Hatfield: Peace & Love

Juliana Hatfield will release her eleventh solo album Peace & Love on February 16th on her own label, Ye Olde Records. The singer-songwriter with the angelic voice produced and engineered the album herself, and also played every instrument heard on this stripped down, mostly acoustic project.

Recorded on her brother’s eight-track digital recorder, Juliana delves into the most intimate and sparse of acoustics for most of Peace & Love. Sometimes this approach works very well, other times it results in disappointment.

The weaker tracks are “The End of War,” “Why Can’t We Love Each Other,” and especially “Butterflies.” Not that any of these songs are bad when taken individually, but the bare bones arrangements and sugary vocals get a little monotonous when listening to the album straight through.

Somehow, though, even the album’s flaws make it more endearing, more human. And each song contains at least one lyric that resonates…

“You sent someone to fight for you, but no one fought for me”

“Our houses are not homes.
Why don’t I ever see you, when you live just down the road?”

Initially I thought I would also include the album’s title track in the weak list, but it turned out to be a grower. I suspect that’s true of the entire recording.

Perhaps it’s just that I love the overall concept of stripping everything away. I’m so sick of over-produced, Auto-Tune-abusing, pseudo artists. Even in it’s most uneventful moments, Peace & Love is refreshing in its simplicity.

Things start picking up with a short electric guitar riff in “What Is Wrong,” which helps to anchor Juliana’s delicate, skyscraper soprano.

The highlight of the album is without a doubt the love song “Evan” – an ode to Juliana’s ex, Evan Dando of the Lemonheads. Never has a post-breakup ballad sounded so sweet, humble, and heartfelt. It’s possibly the most perfect, girlie love song ever written.

The romantically resigned refrain “Evan, I just love you, I guess” isn’t exactly Shakespeare, but Juliana sings it with such sincere emotion that it feels like it is. The song also has the prettiest, most interesting instrumentation on the album.

The unrequited love pop ditty “Let’s Go Home” and the my-man-done-me-wrong-but-I-got-friends anthem “Faith in Our Friends” are as upbeat as it gets here. Another highlight is “I’m Disappearing,” which balances somber lyrics with a heavier arrangement.

The finale “Dear Anonymous” will connect with anyone who has ever received a nasty comment from some nameless internet troll, but the song takes a somewhat compassionate, turn the other cheek stance on the subject.

I’m very excited that Juliana will perform at Mountain Stage this Sunday, February 7th. And not just because she was in My So-Called Life.

Juliana Hatfield – Evan (mp3) *

*mp3 posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

Buy @ Amazon

Juliana Hatfield Official Site
Juliana Hatfield My Space

My So-Called Life DVD Set

Yesterday, I received the most awesome DVD set ever – the entire series of My So-Called Life. This may sound cheesy but it’s true – this new MSCL DVD set by Shout!Factory is literally so beautiful it hurts to look at it. It was definitely worth the 13-year wait.

The packaging is so lovely and perfect – put together like a gorgeous scrapbook with images of the cast, episode stills, quotes from the show, and letters from writer Winnie Holzman (who goes into more detail about her plans for season 2), Joss Whedon, Janaene Garofalo, and others. The episode summaries include what songs were played in each show, guest stars, and the occasional extra note (Catalano was not the original last name for Jordan).

The DVD discs are in bright colours with smalls sketches that fit particular episodes – a girl with her hair hanging over a sink for “Pilot”, an angel for “So-Called Angels” (an episode featuring Juliana Hatfield), etc. So far I’ve only watched a few of the features on the bonus disc – “Conversation With Claire Danes and Winnie Holzman”, “My So-Called Life Story”, “The Music” (an interview with composer Snuffy Walden), and the character bio of Angela (which features brief interviews with Claire, Wilson, and Devon Odessa). There are several other featurettes and interviews on the bonus disc, as well as commentaries on individual episodes by the show’s creators and cast – including Devon Gummersall on “Life of Brian”, Claire Danes on “Self Esteem”, and Wilson Cruz on “So-Called Angels”.

Though I haven’t watched any of the episodes yet, just seeing clips from the show in the bonus features was very powerful. And not just because it’s the first time I’ve seen them without the snowy distortion on my VHS tapes from the original 1994 airing on ABC. There’s something about seeing Claire Danes (who is my age) talking about that time in her life, then seeing those clips of her as Angela and remembering being that age myself that was surprisingly emotional.

There are more details and reviews on the set at MSCL.com.

Buy the MSCL DVD Set