Born in Cannes, Peel was raised between France and Canada, and sings entirely in English on this album. As a child, she tended toward self-determination. “At 6,” she explains, “I would take my bike and go for long rides in the countryside... Sometimes I would go fishing by myself.” Though her mother worried, Julie always came home “like it’s normal a 6 year old kid would go out all day so far away.” That independent spirit is evident throughout Near the Sun, which Julie recorded, mixed, and produced on her own.
She plays most of the instruments as well, though she is also joined on bass, cello, and upright bass by Cyrille Catois (who she met in 2005 and has worked with consistently ever since) and on drums by Andreas Dahlbäck (drummer and producer for Anna Ternheim). Spontaneity was key in the creation of this album, as evidenced by tracks such as ‘Innocence.’ “I composed it and wrote the lyrics in under an hour, and recorded it very quickly right after,” she reveals. “... I guess this song is what represents me the most.” The swell of the cello under her honest, melancholy lyrics turn this stand-out track from simple to understatedly sophisticated.
“Most of the tracks were first takes,” Julie notes, which manifests itself in a sense of both immediacy and intimacy throughout the album. The undeniably catchy track ‘Living in a Movie,’ replete with irresistible handclaps, seems sent straight from the soundtrack to a film by Michel Gondry or Sofia Coppola. A sweet and somehow cinematic tune that demonstrates Julie’s capability to craft pop songs at once familiar and dream-like, deceptively minimal, ‘Living in a Movie’ is just one of the songs off Near the Sun that compels repeated listens. Though her contributions to the ALR compilations were noteworthy in their own right, this collection of original material bears testimony to Peel’s own dynamic pop sensibilities.
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