Growling like a wild animal just awakening from a long hibernation and now itching to take a bite out of life once more, the sizzling electric guitar that we hear in the opening bars of “Flannel Shirt” immediately clues us in as to the chill-inducing melodicism about to come pouring out of the speakers here, in Julie Amici & Dean Mueller’s new album I Loved You So, but it isn’t until we’re deep in the clutches of “Daddy” that the multilayered nature of the music this pair is producing takes its full shape. On the back of the swinging groove in this song, we move forward into the blues-style crunch of the spellbinding “Hot in the City,” and before we know it, Julie Amici & Dean Mueller are controlling every move our hips make.
The title cut in I Loved You So changes gears from the urban swagger of “Hot in the City” over to an old-timey folk rhythm and harmonizing vocals between Amici & Mueller that warm listeners up like a crackling fire in the dead of winter, and following its quiet melodic march, even more acoustic-bound grooves come flowing from our stereo in the form of “Blind Beulah,” one of my favorite songs on the LP. This number isn’t quite as textured a tune as the Dean Mueller-focused “Turn the Key” is, but while they make for odd neighbors in this tracklist on the surface, they have a lot more in common compositionally than it would seem upon closer inspection.
“Faces in Things” keeps the folky energy of the last three songs going at full-steam before turning us over to another haunting crossover track in “I Wanted You,” which along with “Hot in the City” sports a bassline binding together its rhythm and rhymes so tightly that any music enthusiast will be weak at the knees even in a cursory examination of its sway. There’s a similarly dark undertow to “Frame it on the Wall,” though in this song, the bassline definitely steps out of the master mix to make room for a blushing lead vocal from Amici that could melt ice at the right volume. This track isn’t as swanky a tune as “Sardines and Saltines” is, but overall, I wouldn’t have changed its placement in the arrangement of songs for anything – the flow of material here is just too good to make any alterations.
I Loved You So comes to a conclusion with the stone cold ballad “Read Through Tears,” a composition provoked by tragedy but clearly conceived with the intentions of inspiring a bit of hope amidst the trying times we happen to call the present, and in the moments that follow its final note, it’s hard to shake the narrative of this closing song from our minds. Both lyrically and instrumentally, Julie Amici & Dean Mueller turn in an Americana offering for the ages in I Loved You So, and while it’s not the only alternative LP you should be listening to this April, it’s an emotional effort that fans of this genre should be regarding as a top notch release at any rate.
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