Our world has rarely needed the time to heal as desperately as it does at this very moment; a fact it seems singer-songwriter Julianna Barwick was aware of this when conceiving her latest project. As the title implies, it’s designed to sooth and mend, and across its eight compositions Barwick employs her “most trusted” instruments and gear to build ambient-electronic songs that are comforting and angelic, kindred to the work of Grouper and Susumu Yokota.
In the four years between this and her previous solo album, Barwick uprooted herself from her home of 16 years in New York to settle in Los Angeles. This change of environment can possibly be attest to how much more comfortable and willing she is to experiment and improvise on Healing Is a Miracle, as the album contains some of her most collaborative and adventurous material yet. Opening with the blissful ‘Inspirit’, the following seven tracks unfold in an unhurried manner across 33 minutes, and will likely be most rewarding to listeners who are seeking something gentle and meditative in these unsettling times.
Barwick stretches, loops and layers her voice to interweave harmoniously with the other instrumentation at play, creating a recognisable ethereal effect that feels totally her own. Songs such as the heavenly ‘Safe’ and Nosaj Thing collab ‘Nod’ are just some of the best examples of this, the latter being a stunning and melancholic closer to the album. Elsewhere, ‘In Light’ finds Barwick joining forces with Jónsi of Sigur Rós fame, and sees the two artists strengths marry gorgeously.
Ambient music is often seen as being crafted for moments of introspection or solitude, but Healing also feels extroverted; as if it wants to reach out and touch the world around it. Julianna Barwick has carved out her own niche of the genre offers an inviting, dreamy atmosphere that nourishes like a hot bath; rejuvenating, hymnal and healing.
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