Like St. Vincent Erika Wennerstrom or Angel Olsen, Julia Blair surely can extend musical boundaries that range from the sublime, elegant, and downright gritty rock and roll. From her singing in the Appleton, Wisconsin country-rock group Dusk, to her vital role in the experimental folk-collective Holy Sheboygan! or even as co-founder of the Crutch of Memory Enterprises label and recording studio: Blair certainly knows her way around diverse music scenes and is surely a name we will be hearing more of.
This February, Blair releases her first official full-length solo album on Crutch of Memory – entitled Better Out Than In (out Feb 24th). Glide is premiering the track and video for torch song noir of “Waste Away,” where Blair constructs an orchestral narrative that is melancholic slow-burner following the demise of a relationship.
Blair shares that “Waste Away” is a song about “ending the first long relationship I had and coming to terms with loss.” Stripped down and raw, Blair’s stark vocals cut through the swoon-worthy string arrangements in a song as heart-wrenching as the breakup itself. Cinematic and filled to the brim with emotion, “Waste Away” epitomizes what Blair does best: write songs that hit you straight to the core. On the stripped-down instrumentation, Blair shares: “Sitting at the piano and writing this, I was really into Duke Ellington piano arrangements and Randy Newman at the time. So – without planning it – I think the vibe of this song ended up being an interesting pairing of those two composers.”
As for inspiration, Blair cites “Some of the songs on Colin Blunstone’s “One Year”. I’ve always loved string quartets and discovering that album inspired me to put more strings on records. I grew up playing viola and nerding out about string quartet scores during my study halls. I’ve always loved that arrangement.”
And for the video, Blair states, “I really wanted a dance element. I asked Monica Endres to choreograph something for me and she came up with an insanely beautiful plan for two dancers to interact and then lapse in and out of sync with each other. Finn Bjornerud found a river with some great rock formations in Shawano County, WI for filming and we ended up having to canoe in there because the people of Shawano County had closed the parking lot of the river! But it was worth it, what a beautiful location.”
Photo by John Nance