Julia Bardo – ‘The Raw’ | EP Review

julia bardo the raw ep

Julia Bardo releases debut EP The Raw

Manchester-based Italian musician Julia Bardo, previously crucial in the early iteration of Working Men’s Club before her wildly fruitful solo trajectory; released her EP of original material at the beginning of the year. Her new release The Raw is a beguiling trio of covers exhibiting “Bardo’s evolutionary process”, as the “EP is about experimentation and discovering (her) rawest side”. Bardo’s rendering of the tracks is reverential and complimentary, while still being a firm stride away from the originals and into her own style. The EP was recorded with The Orielles’ Henry Carlyle Wade and is a sliver of “what to expect from (her) debut album, sonically and visually.”

Bardo’s Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up is a similarly brooding, woozy, melancholic ride to the LCD Soundsytem’s 2005 cut, yet shimmering with an altogether more menacing air. As on the rest of The Raw, Bardo’s vocals here are an immensely strong, nigh indomitable force, at the track’s very centre.

Though still having that gorgeous, residual ringing tone, the fuzzier guitars of the original are pared for a cleaner effect, a suitably purer accompaniment to the enrapturing power in the vocals. Bardo enhances the track tenfold with an outro of hauntingly saccharine “feels like I’m in love” backing vocals trading off the magnificent main vocals. The laconic but sensual drum machine beat, in addition to the subtly layered synthesizer, also add superb texture. Not only small changes such as these, but the general air of Bardo’s style make this rendering seem emphatically personal, this being a cover of beautiful vitality. 

Only Over You proves Bardo’s yearning vocal timbre to lend perfectly to the Fleetwood Mac cut, originally from 1982’s Mirage. The more boisterous instrumentation, robust bass and flurrying drums included, although remaining beautifully primitive in amongst the yearning core, show an utterly different side to the artist than the preceding track or the original. The diverse and deeply astonishing vocals, apparent in the cascade of “Angel please don’t go” or the soar of “I’m out of my mind”, besides the sublime bi-lingual element of one vocal section, also demonstrates Bardo’s staggering ability to transform such a track.

Her unique vocals wrap around Silver Jews’ 1998 track Random Rules, and it’s dark and tortured narrative, in a seamlessly grand fashion. The instrumentation too, grants a dark malaise, with stellar guitar and seemingly sporadic stabs of synthesizer casting a labyrinthine shade to the track’s fluid movement. 

The Raw EP not only displays vastly enjoyable reworkings of some of Julia Bardo’s favourite tracks, but also reveals a multitude of her other musical facets equally well and serves to predict the even greater heights she will surely reach with her debut.

Words by James Kilkenny

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