Julia Holter: Tiny Desk Concert

By Lars Gotrich  |  NPR

Julia Holter‘s music exists in tiny universes, colliding in torch songs and bits of cosmic cabaret that are as reverent as they are perverse. The most minute details and the plainest words suddenly form a grandiose spectacle. Last year’s Have You In My Wilderness saw Holter playing with subtle songs that unraveled more with each experience; in the NPR Music offices, those songs were given quiet and bombastic arrangements that felt close and distant at once, with a throwback to the bouncy “In The Green Wild” from 2013’s Loud City Song.

Holter is joined by Devin Hoff (bass), Corey Fogel (drums, vocals) and Dina Maccabee (viola, vocals), and herself plays upright piano, which is a rare treat live. On tour, her keyboard allows synthetic textures to accentuate her clear voice, but when she hits the chorus in “Sea Calls Me Home” here, Holter floors the sustain pedal and pounds atonal chords with wild abandon as she sings, “I can’t swim / It’s lucidity / So clear!” The solo highlight “Betsy On The Roof” also benefits from the upright, but is quickly joined by light viola and bass as the song builds to a dramatic climax that has no choice but to fall apart in broken chords and desperate pleas.

Have You In My Wilderness is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • “Sea Calls Me Home”
  • “In The Green Wild”
  • “Betsy On The Roof”


Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame, Cameron Robert; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Brandon Chew/NPR.

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