Album Review: Julie Odell – Autumn Eve

New Orleans prodigy Julie Odell digs deep for a soaring folk-rock debut bursting with nature and nurture

There are plenty of easy shortcuts into autumn. Watching the trees turn. Seeing pumpkins filling shop windows. The smell of cinnamon. But few more beautiful than Julie Odell’s debut – a record that practically sounds like a leaf changing colour. 

Change is written all over Autumn Eve. Not just in lyrics about nature’s subtle seasons, but hardwired into the bones of every track – abruptly shifting dynamics and tempos to make one of the most sweetly disorientating folk albums around. Writing half of the record before the birth of her daughter in 2016, and half after, Odell wanted Autumn Eve to track all the beauty and charm and fear and messiness of her own last few years.  

Julie Odell - Cardinal Feather (Official Video)

Opening in Ireland, ‘St. Finn Barre’ takes us back to a memory stained with sadness (“the sting of packing up my things / as you laid in bed with fever / dreaming of putting a ring on my finger”), yet ‘Envelope’ follows it straight up with a giddy ode to love. The chapters of Odell’s life are arranged out of order here – deliberately mixed up like scrapbook with the pages torn out. 

Appropriately, the record’s centrepiece comes right at the end, ‘Autumn Eve’ a lilting nine-minute pastoral that tells the real story of the birth of Odell’s daughter. Staged in a log cabin in the middle of a snowstorm with bats crashing through the windows, it’s a mad hippy mini-epic that gets everything it deserves (strings, yodels, a dozen mid-section crescendos…). 

Whatever Odell throws at each song seems to fit, and she throws plenty. ‘Cardinal Feather’ starts off like The Strokes before suddenly slowing the drums down into a wonky country ballad that crashes into yodel yells and delicate shimmers. ‘Moments Later’ sees her lay down the guitar and push a piano into the sunshine instead – New Orleans art folk by way of Tranquillity Base Hotel And Casino

Almost impossible to only hear once, Autumn Eve rewards with each listen. Falling softly somewhere between rock and folk and country and pop, Julie Odell is unlike anyone else. And that’s sort of the whole point. Try and put her in a box and it’ll have changed before you even close the lid.

Autumn Eve is available to buy and stream now. Julie Odell is playing The Lexington in London on November 16, and tickets are available here.