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Peace & Love

Juliana Hatfield

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Album Review

Starkly contrasting with the assured studiocraft of How to Walk Away, Peace & Love presents Juliana Hatfield unadorned. Largely acoustic and spare — the piano of “Why Can’t We Love Each Other” and insistent rhythms of “Let’s Go Home” standing out all the more in this context — Peace & Love has the feeling of a confessional, a suspicion reinforced by the existence of songs like “Evan” that feel like a letter to a longtime friend. Autobiography has always been an element of Hatfield’s work, something she made plain in her memoir and accompanying blog, but viewing this album as a strict journal does a disservice to Juliana’s writing, whether it’s her gift for a sly turn of lyrical phrase or how her melodies rise and fall with a natural grace. Viewing Peace & Love as merely a collection of emotional bloodletting also obscures how it flows as a proper old-fashioned album, shifting tones subtly over its 12 songs, with the instrumental “Unsung” arriving at precisely the right moment and ending on a suitably ambiguous, haunting note with “Dear Anonymous.” Peace & Love remains something of a mood piece — it’s ruminative, not rousing, never succumbing to navel-gazing but not suited for large crowds — which does mean it doesn’t quite have the undeniable power of How to Walk Away, but when a softly melancholy mood strikes, this provides comforting consolation.

Biography

Born: 27 July 1967 in Wiscasset, ME

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After Juliana Hatfield disbanded the jangle pop trio the Blake Babies in 1990, she launched a solo career, performing similarly melodic indie guitar pop. Singing in an endearingly thin voice, Hatfield married her ringing hooks to sweet, lovelorn pop and startlingly honest confessional songs. Her 1992 solo debut, Hey Babe, became a college radio hit, and its follow-up, 1994's Become What You Are, was primed to become a crossover success in the wake of the commercialization of alternative rock. Although...
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Peace & Love, Juliana Hatfield
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