Nude Records will, for me, be forever be associated with Suede, and I suspect they’re still dining out on that to an extent: having liquidated at the turn of the millennium and only recently re-emerged with a small roster of just four artists, they were very much a 90s label. Anyway. They’re releasing the new solo album by Howling Bell and Gigwise’s ‘sexiest woman in rock’ of 2009, Juanita Stein – who also provided the support for Bryan Ferry on his 2016 UK tour. If it seems vaguely incongruous on the face if it, listening to Until The Lights Fade renders this in even starker contrast. There’s a discernible post-punk undercurrent to the album. Ferry is probably one of the slickest, sleekest men in rock: Juanita Stein has some burry edges and
It starts off mellow, melancholy, almost folksy in its delicately-picked pop-tinged rock leanings with ‘All the Way’, but it’s not exactly representative and the album is characterised by some cutty guitars and a country twang delivered with some gutsy sass.
‘Forgiver’ is a classic example of what some critics would likely brand as gothic, but despite the dark slanting atmosphere and breathy vocal, it’s probably a fairs assessment to pitch it as shoegaze post-punk. While it’s not a complete cover-all, it does mark the album’s tone, not east of all with the lugubrious, downtempo strut of ‘French Girl’ carrying the album to a dark, chiming conclusion.
‘Classic’ is a term I personally find uncomfortable on a number of levels, but there are very definitely ‘classic’ elements to this release, which entwines mellow and melodic with dark and tense, wrapping it together with a folky / gothy gauze that at times calls to mind All About Eve, but without some of the flowery hippiness.
‘Silver Linings’ is lilting but dark, and over the ten tracks, Juanita shows some range, from the sparse to the richly-layered full-band sound. What’s noteworthy is the consistency of the material: there really isn’t a weak track here.