The project of Brooklyn based singer / songwriter Julie Kathryn, ‘Crocodile’ is a lush sounding affair and could easily be mistaken as a product of Scandinavia and her sisters were it not for her distinctly Trans-Atlantic drawl. Originally from the Adirondack Mountains in Lake Placid which hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, it is therefore not surprising that I AM SNOW ANGEL’s music evokes images of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins, but with a North American twist.
Her debut ‘I Am Snow Angel EP’ contained enticingly understated numbers like ‘Grey White December’ and ‘Let Me Go’ which showcased her dreamy, whispery world but these are absent from the ‘Crocodile’ album. Instead, there are nine new recordings where Kathryn attempts to “zero into the deep-rooted struggle between our animal instincts and human reasoning”. It all begins wonderfully with the title track, a beautifully layered synthetic piece given a twist via an almost countrified vocal, drawing on Julie Kathryn’s roots within Americana Noir.
The Americana Noir link is enhanced further on ‘Falling In Love’, a pretty duet with John Carlson. The 6/8 sway of ‘Night Time’ is positively anthemic with a good blend of synthetic and organic textures that inevitably points towards the soundtracks of Angelo Badalamenti for David Lynch. The swirly influence of William Orbit makes its Modern Style presence felt on the pretty waltz of ‘Come With Me’. At times, it veers close to being a Nordic styled reimagining of THE CARPENTERS and this only highlights the strength of Julie Kathryn’s rich vocals.
The artist I AM SNOW ANGEL can perhaps be most compared to is IMOGEN HEAP, in that traditional song elements are set to varying tempos and expansive textures sourced from whatever technology can offer to achieve the desired result. This approach is evident in songs such as the gentle vibey shuffle of ‘Fallen Angel’ and the more overtly percussive electro / Country + Western hybrid of ‘Turquoise Blue’. Then there is the more frantic surprise of ‘Walking On Wires’ which recalls THE POSTAL SERVICE and the building drum driven ‘Fantasy Fiction’. But just when you think there can be no more surprises, out pops a drum ‘n’ bass take of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’ to finish!
I AM SNOW ANGEL’s template is quite distinct from most electronic based music and her sophisticated self-produced work is ideal listening as the world’s evenings get darker and the air gets that little bit cooler. Quietly subversive, it certainly delivers the unexpected.
‘Crocodile’ is available via Amazon, iTunes and the usual digital outlets
Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th November 2014