You may know of Julia Blair from her singing in the Appleton, Wisconsin country-rock group Dusk, who released their self-titled debut album on Don Giovanni Records in 2018 and received some critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork and Stereogum for their 2015 single “Too Sweet.” You might also know of her as co-conspirator in the experimental folk-collective Holy Sheboygan! or even as co-founder of the Crutch of Memory Enterprises label and recording studio.
This February, Blair releases her first official full-length solo album on Crutch of Memory – entitled Better Out Than In (out Feb 24th). After receiving glowing reviews from The Alternative and Thank Folk For That on her lead single “Relax” (a punchy alt-pop feminist banger with notes of Sheryl Crow and Alannis Morrissette), Blair now shares her next single “Waste Away” (out January 20th): more of a melancholic slow-burner following the demise of a relationship.
Julia Blair shares that “Waste Away” is a song about “ending the first long relationship I had and coming to terms with loss.” Stripped down and raw, Blair’s stark vocals cut through the swoon-worthy string arrangements in a song as heart-wrenching as the breakup itself. Cinematic and filled to the brim with emotion, “Waste Away” epitomizes what Blair does best: write songs that hit you straight to the core. On the stripped-down instrumentation, Blair shares: “Sitting at the piano and writing this, I was really into Duke Ellington piano arrangements and Randy Newman at the time. So – without planning it – I think the vibe of this song ended up being an interesting pairing of those two composers.”
As for inspiration, Blair cites “Some of the songs on Colin Blunstone’s “One Year”. I’ve always loved string quartets and discovering that album inspired me to put more strings on records. I grew up playing viola and nerding out about string quartet scores during my study halls. I’ve always loved that arrangement.”
Listen to the single here (out January 20th) and keep an eye out for her solo debut Better Out Than In, out in February.