Review: Julia Wolf comes out of the shadows to slay

“Good Thing We Stayed” by Julia Wolf (BMG)

Julia Wolf used to write her goals in invisible ink on her bedroom walls. The self-described shy girl wasn’t ready to reveal her ambition, even to her family.

In her debut for BMG “Good Thing We Stayed,” the alt-pop performer is ready to come out of the shadows with a blend of darkness, self-discovery and humor. She displays world-slaying potential on singles such as “Hot Killer”...

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“Good Thing We Stayed” by Julia Wolf (BMG)

Julia Wolf used to write her goals in invisible ink on her bedroom walls. The self-described shy girl wasn’t ready to reveal her ambition, even to her family.

In her debut for BMG “Good Thing We Stayed,” the alt-pop performer is ready to come out of the shadows with a blend of darkness, self-discovery and humor. She displays world-slaying potential on singles such as “Hot Killer” and “Get Off My” but it is in the quieter moments, when her vocals and lyrics take center stage, that she emerges as an artist to watch.

Though Wolf is a major-label newcomer, she boasts a large online audience through YouTube videos that she created and uploaded from home.

After COVID restrictions eased, she honed her lyrical skills and presence through open-mic nights in New York City, and the performance experience has served her well. Most lyrics are delivered over a hip-hop beat, but her lilt contains surprising echoes of earlier folk-influenced singers such as Tracy Chapman and even Judy Collins.

One of Wolf’s uploaded live performances gained the attention of writer/producer Jackson Foote (Zara Larsson, Demi Lovato, Cheat Codes). Their collaboration plays to her strengths — together they keep the instrumentation spare and the songs short and punchy.

The result is a tight-knit collection of musical sketches of various aspects of youth: discovery, disappointment, trauma and growth. In the final moments of the last song, “Rookie of the Year,” Wolf reveals some snippets of her training in classical piano, and this may well provide a glimpse of broader range to come in her future work.

With her January album release and a scheduled tour, Wolf is positioned in 2023 to expand well beyond the audience she built from home with a keyboard and camera. As for realizing her once-secret ambition, Wolf describes herself as a Slytherin, so perhaps it was only a matter of time.

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