Julie Gold

Try Love

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Try Love is songwriter Julie Gold's second album of song demos, and while the arrangements sometimes go beyond voice and piano, the performances are best understood as barebones presentations of the material, rather than as professional efforts in the usual sense. Gold has an adequate voice, but occasionally writes a note that is out of her own range, and she is also an adequate pianist whose music never gets very complicated. Heavily influenced by Carole King, as a performer she suggests some of King's own shyness, similarly overcome by a belief in her own work. As Gold's liner notes make clear, many of these songs were written on assignment, though it always seems that they didn't get used by the filmmakers or organizations that initiated their creation. But they hang together thematically, whether Gold is expressing her affection for "Every Living Thing" on behalf of the Audobon Society (which used a Grateful Dead song instead) or hopefully describing "The Journey" of life for the Bette Midler film For the Boys (in which it was not sung). She is nothing if not earnest, with a tone of desperate optimism that always shows the effort it takes to maintain. This is the writing of a determined artist seeking to express herself through professionalism in a field that rarely rewards talent and uses songs as filler. "Most of my songs about heartbreak and unrequited love are now entirely inspired by the music business," she writes about "Hit the Sky," "a song about someone in the music business who used to love me, but no longer does." The song is her most confessional: "I do not want to believe I've been denied," she sings, and you feel the agony of someone who wants to be recognized and fears she's being forgotten. But the frustration seems inherent in the task the songwriter has set herself: somehow to express herself personally through songs commissioned for various commercial projects. The best moments on Try Love suggest that she might be better off writing songs for herself alone and focusing more on her performing career as a means of disseminating them.

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