Unafraid to untangle the knots of Life
Though The Juliana Theory has its storied past, its two current members, Brett Detar (vocals, guitars, keys) and Joshua Fielder (guitar, bass), have recently released their newest album, A Dream Away. The album reimagines the group’s most beloved works with one new song in the mix, “Better Now.” The band has always fallen somewhere in the vein of indie-rock, but the new record develops a sound akin to a mellowed-out emo pop. Swaths of electric keys, bells and charming violins are layered throughout the eight-track record, though most notable are the crisp vocalizations of the band’s unequivocal lyrical compositions. Those more interested in poetry may be displeased, but The Juliana Theory’s candid approach nicely complements its larger motif of acceptance and harnessing an optimistic mindset as one moves through life.
Though the album is only eight tracks, the arrangement of each song remains consistent in terms of instrumentation and vocalization. Detar’s crisp signature vocals are easily recognized as the mainstage in each song, almost providing a platform for every other element to dance on. Whether it be the stripped-down piano slowly building as he expresses “I’ll be by your side so you don’t drown” in “Better Now” or the flurry of keys and bells enshrouding his silky voice in “Constellation” as Detar sings “and I wonder how my world changed without you,” his immutable vocal style blends well with each track.
Interestingly, at some points, when intermixed with the acoustic guitar alone, A Dream Away almost has a country, outdoorsy feel to it. Detar sneaks a hint of gruffness in “Into the Dark,” which may contribute to that undertone, and its continuation with the added wistful attitude in “If I Told You This Was Killing Me Would You Stop” also adds to the more western flavor surprisingly found in A Dream Away.
The distinct blend of stylistic choices made in A Dream Away almost make it unconfined to any genre, though the raucous and candid lyrical proclamations certainly give the emo-pop impression. The Juliana Theory never once tiptoed around their true feelings, laying their hearts on the line as they ruminate across various tracks, singing “will there ever be time enough” or “listen here is the pleasant part/ you and I fell apart.” Though these admissions may be weighty for some, they are always partnered with some sort of optimistic underpinning, reminding listeners that there are always two sides to every coin.
Though A Dream Away may be a reimagination of some older classics, The Juliana Theory certainly delivered it at the right time. Unafraid to bring an optimistic light to the dark, the band reminds listeners that even the most tangled of knots can eventually be undone with the right attitude. Though these songs may have been written years ago, the positivity they inspire without it being too inauthentic or overpowering is certainly a valued skill as people continue moving into 2021.