An acoustic guitar can do a heck of a lot when it’s given the right composition to shine in, and in Julie Amici & Dean Mueller’s “Daddy,” it lights up the song like no other instrument could have. In this track, its strings ignite a passion between these two players that is revisited in the slightly-electrified, but nonetheless surreal, “Read Through Tears,” and no matter where we listen in the pair’s new album I Loved You So, the singular force of emotionality they create beneath the layers of instrumental melodicism is something to be marveled at. Some songs on I Loved You So, like the easygoing “Turn the Key,” employ Mueller’s smoky voice over the soft decadence of Amici’s, but in others, like “Hot in the City,” the smoldering nature of the strings pulls all of our attention away from the lyrical swing of the singer. This is alternative Americana for a discriminating generation of enthusiasts who demand nothing short of excellence out of their latest acquisitions from the local record store, and as I see it, it’s required listening for anyone with a penchant for sweet indie beats this April.
“Sardines and Saltines” stole my heart right out of the gate here, and while it’s structurally contrasting with the flamboyant title track in I Loved You So, I think each of these tracks points out the elements of artistic consistency that Julie Amici & Dean Mueller have in common. “Frame it on the Wall,” on the other hand, is purely an exhibition of Amici’s vocal abilities, and after a bit of internal wrestling,
I came to the conclusion that this song features the best singing on the album. It isn’t easy to pick favorites in an LP like I Loved You So, especially with tracks like “Frame it on the Wall” and the old school swinger “Faces in Things” sounding so incredibly different from one another, and although I wouldn’t describe this record as being progressive in nature, there’s definitely a unique narrative that audiences can take away from its tracklist when experienced in its entirety (as opposed to breaking it up song by song on shuffle).
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Julie Amici & Dean Mueller aren’t necessarily changing the game with tracks like “Blind Beulah,” the cerebral “I Wanted You” or comfortingly folky “Flannel Shirt,” but if you’re in the mood for a batch of Americana-themed songs that challenge both the mainstream model and that of their growing competition in the underground, I Loved You So is an album you need to be listening to this spring. There are a couple of rough edges that come between the beginning and end of this LP, but in the grander scheme of things, I think that what Amici & Mueller are offering in this first collaborate effort is more than worthy of some praise from both critics and fans in 2020.
They’ve got a lot of potential to make something incredible out of this sound, and from the looks of their new album, this is just a taste of what’s still to come.