“i Shall Love 2” By Julia Holter Review
Julia Holter’s meticulous avant-pop lives and dies by its details. Across the four albums she’s released so far, the Los Angeles artist has threaded her voice through lush, delicate arrangements that make abundant use of jazz rhythms and classical instrumentation. “I Shall Love 2,” the first single from Holter’s forthcoming fifth album Aviary, similarly utilizes baroque pop flourishes, but it doesn’t show its hand all at once. It builds slowly, beginning with little more than Holter’s whispered voice and a simple drum machine pattern, the kind you might hear on a lo-fi home recording.
“I Shall Love 2” starts sparsely enough, but it snowballs into one of Holter’s most rewarding crescendos. “I am in love/What can I do?” she sings tentatively, restraining her voice as though she’s worried someone might hear her. Playful synth figures whirr past her, and then trumpets begin to trill in the background and strings shroud her voice. Real acoustic drums accentuate the electronic ones. Soon enough, Holter’s voice collapses into its surroundings. The instrumentation absorbs her and lifts her up, as if she’s surrendering to a power greater than herself. “I shall love,” she sings, triumphant. She’s written that rare love song that precisely captures what it’s like to fall into an overwhelming feeling: the helplessness of it, and the paradoxical strength that arises once you’ve ceded control.