Angus and Julia Stone's new album takes a folksy turn

But is it for the best?

Aug 6, 2014 at 1:00 am

Angus & Julia Stone

From the first few seconds of "A Heartbreak," the first track off Angus and Julia Stone's self-titled album, it's pretty clear we're not in the same old territory. After two albums, the brother-sister duo took some time off from the band to work on solo projects, and it's obvious they've both evolved.

But don't be mistaken; the music hasn't grown leaps and bounds. It's still this pseudo-sad, sort of unremarkable (albeit pretty) nondescript indie something. Does that sound vague enough? But where the music used to focus on Julia's ethereal vocals (and sure, at times, Angus's as well) and their light, but markedly sad instrumentation, now we're hearing them take a more folksy approach to their sound.

By the third track, "Grizzly Bear," we're hearing some Bob Dylan influences and before that, "My Word for It" reminds us of super '70s Fleetwood Mac. There's even a certain twang in Julia's usually Australian-accented voice. "Get Home" backslides a bit into their old territory, but by "Death Defying Acts," they've cemented their attempt at a Southern-style Americana sound. And at least with "Little Whiskey," we get something remotely close to an upbeat track.

Certainly the move toward an indie folk sound is a smart one. When Angus and Julia first broke onto the scene, their sweetly sad sound was all the rage. In 2008, weepy indie tracks were necessary to offset the onslaught of brainless club hits like Savage's "Swing," but these days we're looking for something a little more. We're not sure we found it on Angus & Julia Stone.