Review Summary: Memories of an Old Friend is a haunting, paired-down folk album created by a male/female sibling collaboration. The connection between the two is undeniable. This is a beautiful, enchanting album; however, the male vocals are far weaker than the female.
I knew from the first line that I would like this album: “I just flew in from the windy city.” A line from the song “Private Lawns” that promises to be a traveling song from a female voice that’s both sad and haunting, but cute. Julia Stone has a voice similar to Lykke Li. She’s got a great sense of melody. She has a small voice that’s weak, but in a good way.
The live-sounding, acoustic charm was apparent to me from the start of the album. Memories of an Old Friend has an old folksy charm that is good for relaxing and staring out a window on a rainy day. On the second song, “Babylon”, Angus Stone’s voice comes out, and he has that whispery, quiet, folk-guy sound that doesn’t appeal to me. I relate it to the album Isobel Campbell from Belle and Sebastian made with Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees: Beautiful, enchanting female vocals almost ruined by the overpowering make voice.
His voice does not ruin the album, however. There is no song more redemptive of a thus-far OK album than the fourth track, “Take You Away”. I’ll reuse the adjective “haunting” for this track, because it’s important. Julia’s quivering voice forces you to fall in love with her. She sounds on the verge of weeping, which is paired with an orchestra of string instruments. The harmonizing of Angus and Julia really comes together on this one. It is clear at this point that the duo are brother and sister (which they are), or at least very close.