Peace & Love

Juliana Hatfield

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Peace & Love Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Starkly contrasting with the assured studiocraft of How to Walk Away, Peace & Love presents Juliana Hatfield unadorned. Largely acoustic and spare -- the piano of “Why Can’t We Love Each Other” and insistent rhythms of “Let’s Go Home” standing out all the more in this context -- Peace & Love has the feeling of a confessional, a suspicion reinforced by the existence of songs like “Evan” that feel like a letter to a longtime friend. Autobiography has always been an element of Hatfield’s work, something she made plain in her memoir and accompanying blog, but viewing this album as a strict journal does a disservice to Juliana’s writing, whether it’s her gift for a sly turn of lyrical phrase or how her melodies rise and fall with a natural grace. Viewing Peace & Love as merely a collection of emotional bloodletting also obscures how it flows as a proper old-fashioned album, shifting tones subtly over its 12 songs, with the instrumental “Unsung” arriving at precisely the right moment and ending on a suitably ambiguous, haunting note with “Dear Anonymous.” Peace & Love remains something of a mood piece -- it’s ruminative, not rousing, never succumbing to navel-gazing but not suited for large crowds -- which does mean it doesn’t quite have the undeniable power of How to Walk Away, but when a softly melancholy mood strikes, this provides comforting consolation.

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