If I were to rank Julia Holter’s albums in terms of accessibility, Have You In My Wilderness, her fourth and most recent studio effort, would take the cake. It features her most conventional song structures to date, and is more typically pop-sounding than her music ever has been while remaining as experimental and distinct as always.
On this 2015 release, Holter establishes a highly comfortable and intimate atmosphere from the get-go, the first few warm harpsichord notes of the album’s opener, “Feel You” welcoming her listeners into an experience quite unlike anything she’s created prior.
In her ambiguous, poetic lyricism and warm use of melody on this record, Holter paints vivid pictures of exotic shores as if they were snapshots from her own recollections of childhood holidays. Gone is the shy Julia of Loud City Song. Here, she seems far more open and honest, embracing the beauty of nature and humanity rather than hiding from it under her many hats.
Her haunting compositions on this record, to me, point towards a sort of foreignness and nostalgia words truly fail to explain. In tracks such as “How Long” and “Lucette Stranded on the Island” for example, I can’t help but notice a unique blend of self-content bliss and haunting, ethereal serenity that works so well on a more conventionally-paced and and structured record.
If Ekstasis were Autumn and Loud City Song were Winter, Have You In My Wilderness would without a doubt be Summer. It is a very comfortable and sunny listen to which would seem fitting played quietly on a beach as the sun sets beneath the horizon and gulls sing into the salty air.
More dramatically than on any of her albums, Holter indulges the listener in a more carefree, naïve and childlike aether. In cuts that seem to be heading in a more overtly pop-oriented direction like “Sea Calls Me Home” and “Everytime Boots”, there is a kind bounciness and whimsy I feel as if she has never truly taken advantage of until now, and she really hits the nail on the head and finds a superb balance.
This record is one of intense wanderlust but not one that emotionally overwhelms to a blinding extent. It uplifts you and carries you along vast, empty and exotic coastlines, but does not pull you by the arm until it grows sore.
Here, Holter really seems to find the perfect middle ground between the spiritual euphoria of Ekstasis and the icy remoteness of Loud City Song. It is very clear that she has honed her song writing ability even more since her previous work.
The world Holter creates here feels nor make-believe or overly dramatized, in-fact, it appears her most sincere and personal record to date. Julia creates a beautiful intimacy between the listener and her music, letting her loose, wispy vocals guide you a dream- Into her wilderness.