There is just some music that is best suited for travel. Only some artists know how to truly capture the excitement of a plane taking off, a scenic train ride, or a dysfunctional road trip with friends or family. Juliana & Jesse’s debut album In Time is an accomplished collection of songs that have been made for such occasions. In many ways, it is one of THE soundtracks to a free spirit’s journey through life. It’s title is apt and immediately gets to the core of everything. When one travels, they are playing with time. They are making the best of the short amount we are given on this earth, and when you, the listener, tune in to their good-time vibes, you will never feel as if you are wasting it.
Thematically, most of these songs are centered around time. The word alone appears in the title of three different songs as well as the album’s. The protagonists of their songs either don’t have enough of it, are borrowing it, trying to enjoy it, or just waiting for it to reveal a higher purpose. It may not be concept album, per se, but In Time appears to revolve around this theme. There is also an overall sense of longing in each lyric; the unruly feeling that the grass might be greener. The album is not a downer though; I’d dare say it’s brimming with optimism. It reflects the emotions that anyone feels when they are leaving home. You may not find happiness, but it’s thrilling to think about what may lie on the other side.
Each song flows as a result, and nothing feels out of place. What is most impressive is how well blended it is. Juliana & Jesse mix in elements of country, folk, blues, rock, latin, and pop music almost seamlessly. It is much like a warm cup of coffee that will definitely lighten up any rough morning. All of these genres are within their wheelhouse, yet they somehow roll out their own uniqueness at the same time. I don’t even really know who to compare them to! To mention Jesse James Just Costa’s guitar playing as Santana-esque would be lazy at best, but I can’t deny that there is a Latin-flavored tinge to the way he shreds. Juliana Just Costa’s singing is so soft, warm, and inviting that you’ll feel like dropping everything to go join them on their numerous adventures.
Despite the fact that every track seems to have been chosen carefully, there are some clear standouts. “Song for a Farmer” boasts a soaring chorus so uplifting, you can practically feel the wind in your hair, and the rip-roaring guitar work on “Indigo Blue” puts to shame any naysayers who might accuse these two of being only an easy listening act. If there is any criticism or room for improvement here, it’s that there could be more moments like “Indigo Blue.” Don’t get me wrong, I love how polished and bright the production work is, but at times they could have benefited from providing a bit more of a rougher edge. For example,”Spend a Little Time” is technically proficient, but it lacks the blood and guts that the others songs have. Otherwise, this is an extremely solid debut from an instantly charming, and clearly talented, duo. If they were to offer it, I would gladly take another trip with them in the future.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson