Juliana Hatfield Aims for Peace and Love

 

Self-released/produced/engineered/performed
album to arrive next February.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Peace
And Love,
Juliana Hatfield’s latest album,
will be released on February 16, 2010 on Ye Olde Records. Hatfield, of course, has a long
history of DIY endeavors – from her trailblazing days with Boston indie band the Blake Babies to her
recent releases on Ye Olde Records, the label she founded in 2005 – but with Peace And Love she reaches a new
level of independence. She produced and engineered the album herself and played
all the instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, piano, harmonica
and drum machine.

“I’ve produced records before
but I was always in a studio with professional engineers. So it was definitely
a learning process for me,” says Hatfield, who was ready to strip things
down after her critically acclaimed 2008 album, How To Walk Away, which
was a full studio production. “I always like to try things I’ve never done
before and I’d been yearning to record myself.”  

Hatfield had just purchased her
brother’s eight-track digital recorder and moved into a Cambridge apartment with a back room that had
excellent natural acoustics, so the time was right. “I was able to follow
every instinct without worrying that anyone was going to think it was a kooky
idea,” she recalls. “I just wanted to do something simple.”

The result is an incredibly intimate collection of songs, expertly capturing
the loneliness and collateral damage borne of broken relationships yet
adamantly refusing to remain broken. In the liner notes, Boston Phoenix music
editor James Parker gives it a name: “Survivor-music – because even at
their most palpitatingly fragile, your songs have always been built to last.
Well-made, strong-boned, fit to be played on streetcorners and station
platforms.”

Just as Hatfield stripped down
the recording process, the characters that populate Peace And Love are ready to shed their convoluted lives. The
lilting “Why Can’t We Love Each
Other” answers its own question by acknowledging that love is a
choice: “we can make our lives a song/will it be a blues or a hymn/a dirge
or a psalm/it could be so simple.” But there’s the rub, of course: it could be so simple…if it weren’t for our propensity to muck things up.

From the plucked Elizabethan chords that introduce the opening “Peace And Love” and the
feedback-drenched “What Is
Wrong” to “Unsung,”
Hatfield’s first-ever instrumental, and the closing “Dear Anonymous,” written from the
point of view of a victim who finds empathy for her stalker, the collection is
both compelling and surprising. “Faith
In Our Friends” celebrates those who “think you’re just right
the way you are” while Hatfield gains fresh perspective on her complex
relationship with longtime friend Evan Dando on the exquisite, ethereal
“Evan.”

Peace And Love is Hatfield’s 11th solo album and follows
last year’s How To Walk Away, which was hailed as “rueful and
gorgeous,” by Entertainment Weekly, which gave the album an A-.
“After 20 years, the songstress still packs a wallop on her 10th album,
featuring edgy tales of heartbreak sung with that classic sweetness,” said
Newsweek, naming it a “Checklist” pick of the week upon its release
while Spin pronounced it “vital,” awarding it three out of four
stars. Her autobiography, entitled When I Grow Up, was published by
Wiley & Sons in September 2008.

Hatfield first came to
prominence in her teens as a founding member of the Blake Babies. After four
independent albums with the group, she signed to Atlantic
as a solo artist and had a string of modern-rock hits (including “My
Sister,” “Spin The Bottle” and  “Universal
Heartbeat”). She left the label in 1998, signing to Zoe Records (a Rounder
Records imprint) and releasing four well-regarded albums, including 2004’s In
Exile Deo, named as one of that year’s 10 best albums by The New York Times’ Jon Pareles. In 2005, Hatfield
came full circle, returning to her independent roots and founding Ye Olde
Records.

The track listing for Peace and Love is as follows:

1.    Peace and Love
2.    The End Of The War
3.    Why Can’t We Love Each Other
4.    Butterflies
5.    What Is Wrong
6.    Unsung
7.    Evan
8.    Let’s Go Home
9.    I Picked You Up
10.    Faith In Our Friends
11.    I’m Disappearing
12.    Dear Anonymous

 

 

[Photo Credit: Phil Morrison]

 

 

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