Hello Stranger - Julia Holter

from the album Loud City Song (2013)

I always dig it when someone puts a new spin on a great old tune and transforms it into their own statement.  On Hello Stranger, Julia Holter turns Barbara Lewis' 1963 Soul classic into a magnificent ambient soundscape.  She accomplishes this by capturing the essence of the songs lyrics in her vocal performance and musical accompaniment.

Hello Stranger is the story of two people - who perhaps flirted with or shared a romance - meeting many years later.  When they do, something reignites, time stands still, and nothing else in the world seems to matter.

Hello Stranger
It seems so good to see you back again
How long has it been?
It seems like a mighty long time
It seems like a mighty long time

The vocal delivery is perfectly pure and distant, unfurling patiently to a slow sine wave of music.  It creates the space and isolation that the lyrics demand, placing the singer and stranger in a world all their own.  The music starts with gulls, waves rolling onto the shore, and strings that sound like breathing in a room that is dark and still.  As the song progresses, the strings, saxophone, synthesizer, and cymbals build in intensity, enveloping the characters in cocoon that forever seals their moment from the outside world.

I am not usually one for ambient music, but what Julia Holter accomplishes with this song is quite special.

Click Here to watch Julia Holter perform Hello Stranger.

Click Here to listen to the Barbara Lewis original.