By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“Julianna doesn‘t remind me of anybody, which is one of the things that I like so much about her,” says Raye’s producer Ethan Johns, who has produced music by Ryan Adams, the Jayhawks and Emmylou Harris, and who started his own label, 3 Crows Music, to release Restless Night. “There are touches of [Edith] Piaf in there, and touches of Joni [Mitchell], but just hints. She‘s kind of timeless in that regard. She seems to have been born 50 or 60 years too late.”
Such is much of the charm of Restless Night, which Raye describes on her Web site as a record “for people who like to lie back and dream, and who aren’t afraid of the dark.” A moody blues of groove-cabaret and slink-pop that shares a certain hippie-soul sisterhood with such mod torch singers as Beth Orton and Shivaree‘s Ambrosia Parsley, Restless Night is all about what goes on behind the closed doors of that voice. On songs such as “The Man That Time Forgot” and “One Hour,” it’s clear that Raye is singing to someone. A lover. An ex-lover. Someone she‘d like to seduce, someone she’d like to be seduced by, someone who hurt her, someone she can‘t forget. On others, such as “Dark Night of the Soul” and “Baby Blue,” it’s clear she‘s singing toabout herself. Through it all, the voice remains willowy, clarion-clear, barely bridled.
“Every song on that record is about longing in one form or another,” she said. “I feel like the more I give myself permission to feel that longing, the more it becomes a beautiful expression of myself, as opposed to a weight I’m carrying around. It‘s actually in the resisting of it when you get fucked up.
”You get this idea that this longing is about that person, but it’s not. It‘s about this person, and that person, and that other guy. It’s like trying to stop a river. To say that longing doesn‘t have a place in spirituality is like, well, then neither does the ocean.“
The song that perhaps best defines the singer is ”Indigo River,“ which finds Raye giving in to her blues, in a decidedly not-mopey manner, and exploring her insatiable lust for life. With which comes a lust-life hangover that she sings about, with a skyward lilt, on ”Baby Blue“: ”Haven’t you heard of being too alive? Baby‘s got a heart that’s been surgically opened wideShe‘d like to wave goodbye.“
”I’m kind of a sensitive machine,“ she said. ”I get stuck in my emotions, fascinations that I have, and I feel totally overwhelmed by them. I get a pain overload and get so stuck in that feeling that I sort of shut down.“
So she sings. Solo, or with her band (bassist Jennifer Condos, drummer Jay Bellerose, and guitarists Mark Goldenberg and James Harrah). She sings at bars, cafes, theaters and coffee shops. Yes, almost 10 years after her ”A Star Is Born“ story stopped as quickly as it started, Julianna Raye sings.
”I got to a point recently where I thought, if I can‘t make it, if I stop, possibly the saddest thing about it is that it’s really only going to be a loss for me,“ she said. ”Like, I‘m the one. It’s my personal goal to communicate, and if I don‘t manage to reach an audience, they’re not going to know the difference. I‘m the only one who’s going to know what I lost.“
At that, her transcribed speaking voice laughed to keep from crying, while her indescribable singing voice waited in the wings to tell her story. You should hear it.