The debut effort from Kenyan born vocalist and songwriter Juliet Huns is one of those moments when you know you’ve been introduced to a transformational talent. Despite her heritage and upbringing, Huns never sounds removed from anyone’s experience of love and living life. The three songs on her first EP never confine themselves to pursuing one line of attack and, instead, intermingle a variety of approaches with a confident, deep feeling spirit that fills the performances with a tremendous amount of soul. The vast majority of the music on Behind the Scenes comes from electronic sources – keyboards and synthesizers capable of laying out warm, fat bass notes and percussion. There’s even some quasi-guitar lines introduced during the EP that drives home a surprising rock and roll spirit without ever deviating too far from the pure pop bliss that defines the release as a whole. The melodic virtues here are considerable and it all begins with Huns’ voice.
“Realized” kicks things off in superb fashion. The three songs on this EP are rousing numbers, full of vim and vigor, but the first song gets things started in fine fashion thanks to its irrepressible energy and Huns’ exuberant vocal. The lyrical content is quite sharp – she never relies too much on the standard twists in songs like this and, instead, writes from a much more personal perspective. While songs like this fail to breach any new ground, they do reveal Huns as a singer and songwriter capable of pouring old wine into new bottles. The construction of this particular track is another bright spot – it never goes on for too long and Huns has wisely peppered the track with a number of high points and mini-crescendos that propel listeners along. “Gone”, the EP’s second track, has an outright rock dynamic pushing it out of the gates courtesy of some synthesized guitar sounds that are particularly strong during the chorus. Her ability to sound completely natural and convincing in this sonic environment distinguishes her from many of her contemporaries and gives this track added oomph that will satisfy many. Much like the first song, “Gone” covers familiar territory for pop lyrics, but Huns does it with stylishness and articulate passages that few pop songs dare embrace.
The final track, “Red Line”, brings together the best elements of the preceding songs and gives them an extra amount of force to push it over the top for a rousing closer. Huns is quite comfortable with her voice surrounded by quasi-rock dynamics – the tenor of the music on this track shifts often and she responds without missing a step. As before, she may be messing with familiar subjects, but she does so with a worldliness that most of her contemporaries can’t match. This never panders and the fire breathing vocal that she crowns the song with is full of passion that’s impossible to ignore. Behind the Scenes is a memorable debut by any standard and promises great things are in store for this magnificent singer.
9 out of 10 stars.