What opens with the singular closes with the plural
As you walk up to the Royal Albert Hall it’s difficult not to take a sharp intake of breath. The regency buildings of Kensington glimmer in the floodlit night, wealth permeates from every pore and the ghosts of Victoria and Albert are laid thick in the air. Almost tucked away, the old building has a steady, knowing confidence like a rich treasure stowed away in a corner of affluence. When you enter refined grandeur strikes you, the history of all the masters who have graced the stage seep into your conscience and images of flag waving bombast stir in your heart. In short, it’s not a place to see just anyone.
Entering the Elgar Room you find a small stage, empty apart from a grand red piano standing in the spotlight. It is obvious who this stage belongs to. The stark loneliness of the piano finds a partner in Moonface’s heart-wrenchingly singular new album Julia With Blue Jeans On. For a love album it’s one seemingly to be enjoyed alone; it requires your undivided attention, with no distraction or sound apart from the awareness of your own heart beating. But without its partner the piano is little but an ornate object, full of beauty yet futile; a polished box of unrealised potential. Tonight the piano lives and breathes as Spencer Krug’s vocals dance around the dramatically poised suspense it weaves. His piano playing drips with gravitas as he hovers over the keys a cross between manic puppet and grand master. All the while his vocals soar, slightly tortured and charged with feeling, and his soul is laid to bare with emotion straining from every sinew and each delicate but pained movement.
Mixing literal with allegorical Krug creates his own narrative, referring back to personal reference points, so much that the long-term listener can hear themes revisited from previous vessels. It’s easy to hang off every word. Home is one constant theme on Julia With Blue Jeans On, alongside the uneasy self-reflection of the heart. Krug is too clever to fall into lazy clichés, but I feel like he’s telling me home is where the heart is.
Some of the best songwriters have a knack of tapping into our hopes and fears, of articulating human emotion in a way others can’t, of writing songs that speak to us on a deeply personal level. Tonight, Moonface does just that. Tonight is one of those rare moments when it feels like we are spoken to directly; we hold hands and feel like we have an audience with Spencer. Tonight is something different, tonight is something personal. There is a raw empathy in the minimal set-up and if you close your eyes it is just you, him and his piano. Except; for tonight stood next to me is a beautiful soul, intimately sharing this personal moment seemingly designed only for us. Without knowing it, we’d all but sold our souls to the day.
Julia with Blue Jeans On is an album of love songs. It is a concept album if the concept is love, and unashamedly so. If unabashed feeling is good enough for Moonface then it is certainly good enough for me: Tonight as we sway gently arm in arm, our cheeks touching, our eyes closed and our hearts beating – we don’t need our voices as Moonface articulates everything we need to say. We give him our mouths and when he comes up for air we kiss. Love does not discriminate, and tonight, we share it with Spencer and each other.