Julie Roberts has been known for her country-blues fused voice. She moved out of the spotlight for a few years to focus on herself in California, and now she’s back to help fans get into the Christmas spirit with a 7-song EP “Who Needs Mistletoe.” She released her album yesterday on her independent label, Aint Skeerd Records. She managed to combine a traditional feel with modern production in this EP, to give fans of both classic and modern country music something they could enjoy.
Julie has a unique, powerful voice which she shows off very well in the short album. Her EP is sure to get country music fans in the mood for the Christmas season. The EP features one original Christmas song co-written by Julie and her producer, and six favorite songs from her childhood. Read our track by track review below:
“Blue Christmas” was the perfect choice to kick off the EP with. The song is hard to master if you don’t have the perfect bluesy voice to fit the soul of the song, but Julie does perfectly. The simple production on the track fits her voice perfectly. While some singers try to over sing the song, Julie uses the song to show off her vocal capabilities.
“Who Needs Mistletoe” is the title track to the album, and is a sassy little tune where Julie asks if the man is in a giving mood, but she doesn’t need mistletoe because she’d rather be “under” him. It’s a sexy little song that she co-wrote with Jason Collum. She sent the song out to radio Monday night, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing a lot of it this holiday season. It’s a short little song but it gets you right into the Christmas mood. I always love hearing original country music songs on the radio during the Winter, and I fully expect to hear a lot of this single the next few weeks.
The third song is “Pretty Paper,” a Christmas song that we don’t really hear covers of much anymore. From the start of the song you can hear the strong country vibe, and her vocals are just as strong here as they are in the opening track. It’s a wonder why Julie isn’t more popular than she is with the pretty blues-soaked voice that she has. Her version is a throwback to the days of classic country and listening to the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts over the radio.
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is one of my favorite Christmas songs during the Holiday season. Julie once again keeps things simple, but that’s what makes it so beautiful: her voice is mesmerizing. Her version has the country but still Christmas mix to it. If she were to have a second single sent to radio from the EP, this would be my pick: although it’s an often-covered song by most artists today, her version is different and her vocals would make it stand out from the rest of the pack.
Julie’s version of “O Holy Night” is very country. While most artists would choose to over shout on this song, or bring in a full orchestra, Julie once again chooses to showcase her voice instead. It’s one of the stronger songs on the EP, and at times her voice reminds me of Kellie Pickler’s ballads.
“Away In A Manger” is another classic country tune that was turned pretty country for the EP. Like the rest of the album, the simple production does wonders for Julie’s version and voice. You can feel her love for the song in her version of the Christmas classic, and that she cut it because she liked the song, not for how popular it is. It’s a nice version that might not stand-out on the radio, but it keeps the Christmas cheer going through the album.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” closes off the album with a pretty little bow. It’s the perfect song for her voice, with a smoky blues feel to the song. It has a piano-bar feel to the track. It’s a little more jazz or blues than it is country, but that’s what makes it great. Julie knows the limits of her voice, and makes sure to stay true to the song’s original version but still found a way to put her own spin to it. That’s something that’s hard enough to do when covering a song, especially when it’s a Christmas song that everyone knows.
It’s a brave step for any artist to put out an EP, especially a Christmas one where they keep things simple and choose to record it for the love of the season. Julie managed to pull it off perfectly, and her EP should be a welcome gift for any country music fan. I wish it were a full length studio album since the quality is that good. Julie’s choice in songs, and her delivery on those songs, shows off her strength and how pretty her soulful voice really is. Instead of covering the most popular Christmas songs (like “Jingle Bells”), she picked the perfect songs that work for her voice, and the songs that she would be able to put her own spin on while keeping true to the real sound of the tracks. It’s a record to be proud of, and shouldn’t be judged any differently than a full-length album. It’s quality and sure to get anyone in the mood for the next few weeks.
Julie’s “Who Needs Mistletoe” EP is a perfect fit to any Christmas collection you may already have at your Christmas parties this season. Her EP is available now on all digital music retailers.
RATING: 4 out of 5
DOWNLOAD: Who Needs Mistletoe, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, O Holy Night.