Born Julie Hampton in Schenectady, New York in 1954, Hampton who is currently based in Fairfield, Iowa, was inspired to start writing songs for Electra Day, a solo folk project, from her travels earlier in her life.
After college, Hampton ventured out to travel around the USA and lived in many places that include Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington. She started traveling around Europe in 1994 and stayed in Germany for a while where she worked in Berlin for 12 years, teaching English as a second language, as well as doing editing and German-to-English translating work. Being in a foreign country inspired her to pen stories and poetry, especially during the last four years there.
Quiet Hours is the first album that was released this year to come from the sights and scenes that Hampton witnessed first-hand from her travels that took her from Berlin to the Mohave Desert of southern California, the Gulf Island off the coast of British Columbia, the High Sierra Desert of northern New Mexico and then to the Midwest of the US in Fairfield, IA. She hopes to release new material to the second part of the Quiet Hours project next year.
The band moniker, Electra Day, has been with Hampton for most of her life. Hampton says in her band statement that Electra Day is the name that her parents used for her before they chose Julie instead. She used it as a pen name for her writing during her college days, and recently had found out that Electra Day was her grandmother.
Ties like the traditional roots her band name has with her ancestry and ties to the land are what makes Hampton’s songs so imaginative and magnetic. The charming guitar is the underlining consciousness to these songs. In tracks like in the opener, “Big Sky,” the soundscape looks into the landscape of the lands she has traveled. They are deep and dense, immense tracks that are quietly rendered. The simple approach and simple arrangements of just vocals and guitar placates the heart. “Big Sky” treads a course that takes you across the finer and smaller things of life. You begin to notice such aspects of being alive, and it takes a certain brevity to walk through the scope of these things. The song is molded with a clear eye for detail within the lyrics that arise through the heavy interlocking layers of vocals and acoustic guitar.
In “Falcon’s Gaze,” the song bonds bountiful details that just as much entices as any good pop track. Pop music these days don an impenetrable facade and a mold that is hard to break. It is a heartless formula, but here in such songs like “Falcon’s Gaze,” we can trust in the steady hand that has made these tracks. The song sums up fields of endless grass, mountains, streams, lakes and rollicking hills. Here in this track, we begin to see the emotional and spiritual journey that begins to unfold itself, fulfilling a good portion of this folk album.
“Not Against It or For” brings us to the direct state of mind of the world weary traveler. With an ordered approach that takes the listener by the hand and leads them on an inward journey, we materialize with a sentimental outlook of our own. The driving themes of a worldly traveler transpires into the mystifying as both the particulars of the mundane and spectacular begins to manifest itself within this track. These components merge different elements and styles into the sweeping landscape.
Toward “From Boulder to Oblivia,” Hampton asks for a return to the simpler life as if it was a sincere longing to revisit the time in history when these places were a more intimate setting and provided the nomad with a more sated state of rest.
The last track to Quiet Hours, “Old Blind Couple,” loosens you up as you listen with greater understanding of these songs. You may begin to sympathize with the wanderer as the song takes you on a journey to these places of relaxation. In a lasting sense as Hampton recaps her visits, the lyrics paints a graceful picture of rolling hills, lush countryside and cresting mountaintops. You will begin to fall in love with the outdoors just as this inspiring folk singer-songwriter has.
The tracks that Electra Day has penned off Quiet Hours celebrates life and in the truest sense, talks about dreams and inspirations. This is a modest album that does not flaunt. With deep welding emotions permeating this record there is a timeless quality evident from the very start of these songs. The poetic quality that emerges from the bare acoustics that rocks and cradles you forward delivers with a strait of peace and tranquility. Listeners may lose themselves in these epic patterns, 7.7/10