The Australian powerhouse duo, Angus & Julia Stone, have released their fourth studio album Snow. Recorded at Angus’ cottage studio, Belafonté, in the Byron Bay Hinterland, one can only imagine what the picturesque setting would have done for their creative juices. Following on from their successful self-titled Angus & Julia Stone (2014) third album, Snow sees the pair writing together again, allowing each other to give their own perspectives and fusing their different but complimentary song writing styles. The pair also performed the majority of the producing and engineering roles on the record themselves.
Snow is captivating with its magical folk tones and dreamy vocals as the siblings dazzle through every song on the record. The title song, Snow, kicks off with a sunny tinge to its tone with its soft guitars and Angus’ rugged dreamy vocals accompany his sister’s. Oakwood has a more rock-folk vibe with a rhythm that almost sounds like Fleetwood Mac before Angus’ entrancing vocals take over yet again.
Sleep Alone is raw and intimate, while Julia’s vocals are gentle and beautiful in Nothing Else. Nothing Else takes you back to the duo’s acoustic roots, with smooth harmonies and sweet sugary lyrics that fills the niche of acoustic brilliance that listeners love from Angus & Julia. Similarly, Sylvester Stallone offers a cute love story that is enchanting and captivating with the harmony between the Stones.
Chateau has such warmth, something rarely accomplished lyrically with such brilliance starting with violins, then filling the sound with a blend of warm acoustic tones. Angus’s raspy voice then enters later complimented by Julia’s light sweeping entry which we have become accustomed to. The pop ballad Who Do You Think You Are offers an accompaniment of guitars with a country twang and favour. Referencing one of the great French poets, Charles Baudelaire, Baudelaire’ is a great piece of songwriting looping lyrically through much of the album in a non-metrical fashion.
The use of a drum machine and a more expansive guitar palette is a marked difference from Rick Rubin’s organic Los Angeles third album production. They even take a shot at indie-hop on Baudelaire, which works surprisingly well for the pair who grew up in Sydney’s northern beaches of Australia.
Angus & Julia Stone are back better than ever, exploring new musical ideas and taking listeners on another journey. A brilliantly orchestrated album.
Review by Rob Lyon