I find ukulele music annoying. It’s like as soon as spring is sprung, there’s an overwhelming flock of kids toting soprano ukuleles and I just want to throw myself out the nearest open window. However, ukulele player Julia Nunes’ newest album, Settle Down, manages to cure my uke-icidal tendencies.
Nunes is very much a home-grown musician, best-known for her YouTube videos she’s self-published since 2007 and for her style of layering multiple self-recorded tracks with footage of her playing different ukuleles, guitars and the occasional water
Settle Down was funded through Kickstarter.com, where Nunes was able to connect directly to her fans and receive donations. The album consists of several new tracks and five older songs she re-recorded using the funds from the Kickstarter project.
A neat thing Nunes did while leading up to the album’s official release was posting music videos to accompany the three “vignettes” of the album. “He is Mad,” “Pizza” and “I Wasn’t Worried” are each no more than a minute long, but all tell fairly decent stories for the brief time they take up. I’m a fan of her lyrics because she refuses to sacrifice her story-telling to force rhyme or sentimentality. She treads a really great line between the honest and saccharine, never falling back on easy cynicism.
I’ve also always liked the round quality of her voice and the blending power it has when harmonizing with itself; the higher quality of recording for Settle Down certainly lends itself to the new songs and the gentler harmonies. The first single from the album is a song called “Stay Awake” about the midnight insomnia from which many millennials suffer. It’s the song Nunes performed on “The Conan O’Brien Show” in February and it’s easily one of my favorites.
Some other standout tracks are “Fairweather,” “Nothing’s That Great,” “Lookout for Yourself” and “I Will Go Anywhere With You.”