Julia Wolf Puts the Shy Girls First on Debut EP 'Girls in Purgatory'
Photo: Julia Wolf
The immediacy of success translates so poorly. The fruits of hard work so easy to share, a posturing post, a grateful thank you laden with tributes, beguiling but deceiving. What isn't so obvious, what rarely shows, is the grit, the skin-scratching nervousness about what to do, the immense courage to keep pursuing a fleeting goal edging out on the horizon like a moon dipping into the earth.
Julia Wolf is the embodiment of this, a young artist who, even to this writer, seemed to come out of nowhere. A path with so few steps you couldn't have accounted for them. Nothing could be further from the truth, and much of Girls in Purgatory is a proof of work hidden behind-the-scenes, a chart of a journey, a testament to how much goes into being a "rookie of the year."
Julia did not start out as an obvious pop queen; she was not a young girl whose parents would have playfully identified as a future "star," singing into a spoon and dancing in the kitchen. Julia was instead a shy, quiet, hoping to be unnoticed girl, who ate her school lunches alone in the music room where she studied classical piano. During her senior year, in that exact music room she sought social refuge in, her music teacher prodded her to compose an original for the school showcase. Only then did the architecture of the Wolf begin, but it was still an empty skeleton, without musculature for articulation.
A year following the course of studying piano in college, followed by a gap year, led her to the SUNY Purchase songwriting program, and another layer of completion was added to the artist to be Julia Wolf. The deep dive into songwriting along with finding her true collaboration in producer Jackson Foote, congealed two strengths into a singularity that helped "explain me better," says Julia. That long-winding path of both self-discovery and external understanding of craft and contributors created a true bodily vessel that is now Julia Wolf.
Girls in Purgatory is a debut that is both self-explanatory and rife with a triumphant voice that had long been subjugated to the perceived wants of others. It can be best described as a megaphone for the alpha shy, a moment to live your truth from a point of deep introspection, not denying the fears and anxieties that plague them but celebrating the perspective gained.
Of the first three singles off the EP, "Resting Bitch Face" is a pure emotive anthem of purpose, a siren song for those with turtle heads, ducking people and emotions while simultaneously feeling all the things. "In My Way" is a near prototype for what is now understood as the Julia Wolf sound; a throbbing baseline, light melodies, and her heavily informative lyrics dripping all over the track in a near staccato pace (already racking up millions of streams on Spotify alone testifies to the success of this sound). "Falling in Love" is a proverbial anti-love love song, a measured belief in its impossibility, its pitfalls and trappings but still suggesting a longing for it. "Nikes" is a startling vortex of contradictory feelings, a divided self, a brilliant analogy reading of the psyche, confusingly talk sung over a thematic trap beat. "Checkmate," another Wolfesque rendition, is a barrage of observational lyrics, slights, commentary and descriptions over a trap beat and waved baseline, a song for the ardently misunderstood.
"Girls in Purgatory," the eponymous title track, is a standout moment that Julia admits stretched her boundaries and pushed her sonically, and the promise of this boundary pushing is riveting. With a brooding piano melody, thin skinned feeling lyrics, and a rare appearance of vocal harmonies, this song has all the chemistry of a future star. If this sound has been in Julia's purgatory, it is time to animate it into existence. For this body of work, moving the spectrum of sound is the inertia of success. Once it starts moving, nothing will hold Julia Wolf back.
Listen to Girls in Purgatory below: