The opening cords on 'America' from Juanita Stein’s guitar on the opening track, ‘Florence’ (inspired by a real-life photograph by Dorothea Langue, taken during the Great Depression, of the eponymous Florence Owens Thompson) sets the Americana, widescreen and tumbleweed landscapes sound of this record. Add to that Juanita’s voice; clear, sweet and equally as widescreen as the guitar.
Then of course, Juanita Stein grew up in Sydney; a country where vast open spaces are all around you on any roadtrip. The singer and songwriter of Howling Bells recorded her first solo album with producer Gus Seyffert in Los Angeles, indeed, not a record you could have recorded in a cold damp London anyway, this record breathes sunshine and hot open landscapes.
The opening verse of ‘Stargazer' epitomises the widescreen feel with the lyrics; “Out in the desert where you roam’ The night sky will guide you home, You watch a wheel, catch a fly, It's your assurance that life goes by”. By the time this songs comes round on the record, the fith song on an album of 11, you are already lost, roaming in a land of reverb guitar and dreamy vocals.
Juanita said of the record; "This record is an ode to the dark heart of America. Of times gone and times to come Dusty trails, a whimsical 50s suburbia and the haze of the 1960s. I've forever idealised American life - growing up in Australia we were fed the American dream through film and television. The dichotomy between what was real and a dream is forever intriguing to me. The music of Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, Lee and Nancy and Patsy Cline all informed my musical sensibilities. They opened up this wide screen universe for me.”
Juanita formed Howling Bells with her brother, Joel, and friends when they moved to London together in 2004. A break from the band around the arrival of her first child saw her solo work start to emerge, and now we have a truly great album in our hands and tour dates to come!