Review: Angus and Julia Stone

Angus and Julia Stone’s 2006 EP, Chocolate & Cigarettes, is a rewarding slice of downplayed indie-folk from Australia. The 6 track disc kicks off with “Private Lawns”, a tune with its sharp rhythm understated by a rather pensive acoustic guitar. Within moments, the song introduces us to Julia Stone’s voice, a gravelly lilt holding a little girl’s soothing disarmament underneath. Hers is beguiling in the way that Over The Rhine’s Karin Bergquist’s breathy singing is, but Julia’s delivery is slightly more stripped down by comparison, perfectly complementing the bare musical structure of most of the Stones’ songs. Angus also weighs in vocally on half the tracks (“Mango Tree”, “Paper Aeroplane”, “Babylon”). His unassuming approach, while opposite of his sister’s, still serves the same end, fashioning songs that set and cement a mood.

The track collection alternates from relaxing and airy to melancholy calm, utilizing the occasional trumpet, piano or violin to enhance the atmosphere that emanates from the music. The feel of the Stones’ sound does recall the likes of Fionn Regan and the aforementioned Over The Rhine, but not in a derivative or redundant way. This brother/sister team has established a beautifully distinct sound with their first effort and while it may be a short listen, it’s absolutely satisfying. I can’t wait to hear what their more recent EP and full length album (Heart Full Of Wine and A Book Like This, respectively) add to their remarkable debut.

-Drew Dykstra