"Exit Fo[u]r" Album Review
by Paige Menneci
Full of heart and vulnerability, Julianna Sweeney’s debut album demonstrates the power of young voices to express universal truths and celebrate the bittersweet ache of growing older.
Sweeney is firmly rooted in the singer/songwriter tradition, exposing her innermost fears and hopes with phrasing that’s beautifully lyrical, yet infused with conversationality. She seems to be talking to each listener as a close friend, and engages with fans on social media in much the same way.
Exit Fo[u]r explores themes of deep friendships, growing through hardship and finding authenticity in a world with so much noise. With songs written from high school through her college career, Sweeney allows us a cross-sectional view of her journey out of adolescence.
The instrumentation ranges from as ordinary as acoustic guitar and light drums, to the other-worldly wailing of a saw played with a bow in the opening track, “ready”. Sweeney’s command of texture is clear, with weaving vocal harmonies, finger-picked banjo, and simple chordal piano among other choices that lift up each song’s meaning. Listeners are immediately enveloped by the smooth warmth of the sonic world she’s created and held there for all ten songs of the album.
Influenced by Joni Mitchell and Carole King, unexpected yet somehow inevitable harmonic shifts are peppered throughout the album. Her vocals are light, yet hold a weight to them, communicating immense hope through the trials of growing up. She riffs effortlessly through her upper and lower range, adding yet another texture that feels like home.
Deeply inspired by the loss of her mother to breast cancer, all proceeds from album and merch sales go directly to research for childhood cancer. Sweeney is an active member of her community and continues to use her music to help those around her.
If you only have ten minutes, (though I highly recommend you get a warm drink, your favorite headphones, and curl up on the couch for a lovely forty minutes of escape), stand-out tracks include “ready”, “chase the bitter with lime” and “georgia peaches”.
Exit Fo[u]r is available on all streaming platforms.
Visit Julianna’s Instagram for more content.