Juliana’s Daughter – Lions+Tigers+Bears – Beautiful, sweet singer-songwriter album seeks to understand love, life, and innocence

I ate a cupcake last week that was not for the faint of heart. It was easily the most wonderful cupcake I’d ever had. Light, fluffy, vanilla-strawberry cake with a huge swirl of champagne, butter-cream frosting on top, a sprinkling of glittery vanilla sugar making the whole confection almost too pretty to eat.It was delicious. It was like eating a fairy tale. Juliana’s Daughter is the musical equivalent of that cupcake. Her style is beautiful, and airy, and sweet, and honest. The songs are about trying to figure out love and life, dealing with fear, and embracing innocence. Two parts playful and one part grown up. Juliana’s Daughter is Janice Kwan, a Toronto-based singer, song-writer, guitar-player, cat-lover. I’ve been listening to a lot of music out of Canada lately and there is some good stuff coming down from the glorious northlands. “Lions+Tigers+Bears” is her first EP. The music is all original and it is so pretty and catchy. I hope to see more from this young artist soon!

The first song is “In Which She Melts”. It starts out with some gentle acoustic rhythms, and sweet harmonies. The lyrics are real, they portray the conflicted feelings of a first love–fear, and warm-fuzzies. Her voice is beautiful. Smooth and gentle, with depth and emotion. It is easy to listen to, easy to hum along, easy to relate to being “more than a little bit shy” and that fluttery, buttery feeling that accompanies falling in love. It portrays the fear related to falling in love, trusting another person, as being afraid of “all the lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my.” It may be silly, it may be fear of nothing. There probably are no lions, tigers, and bears, but maybe there are. Or maybe there are worse things. Maybe there are broken promises, apathy, and broken hearts.

“Time and Space” is my favorite song. It’s another sweet love song. It is about travelling through history and galaxies with someone you love. I love the electronic sounds in this song. They compliment the time travel concept and are just as pretty as the lyrics. Sparkling keyboard, and just the right amount of distortion on the guitar, all accompanied by Janice’s gentle acoustic strumming and sultry voice. The words explore the universe and experiences through the ages, enjoying views of Jupiter, exploring jungles, visiting the middle ages, swimming in the sea.. It’s adventurous and endearing. “Cause time and space is the perfect place to live out our days.” I love this song. It’s beautiful, inspires my wanderlust, and sooths my soul. It’s so whimsical. I sang it to the children who I nanny and they just love it.

“I never saw this coming, not in a million years, or a hundred ways” –so many of us have experienced a distancing of a relationship that we never expected. The melody of “Baby, Come Back to Love” is a little more jazz inspired than the rest of the EP. It’s beautiful. The rhythm of the acoustic guitar is guiding, the keyboard sounds give ambiance, her voice is emotive and the lyrics are true. It’s a call to a lover to work to fix a failing relationship, to come back and fall in love again. She promises no more broken words, no more fights, no bringing up past failures. “If you came back it’d be enough.” because “I can’t be without you now”.

“Good-bye, Good-Bye” is such a warm good-bye. I wish all good-byes were like this. It’s an inevitable good-bye, earthy, natural, but sad and melancholy “Like the moon and her stars, never have gone far. Like the wind and his cloud, we’d only drift about. While I lie at your side, your eyes, they say good-bye.” The lyrics portray the tragedy of being close but so far, the end. “My heart knows you’ll never be mine.” But the end is beautiful and hopeful. Love is not dead, it has just moved on.

Remember that cupcake I ate last week? The one with champagne frosting and glittery sugar. I think about it fondly, knowing that I will never again come across the same confection. The good news about Juliana’s daughter is that I can listen to this EP over and over again and get the same warm, beautiful, sunshine, strawberries, champagne, sadness, hope, glitter, kittens on the hardwood floor experience as the first time I listened to it. If you like love songs, pretty things, music that makes you think through all of your friendships and relationships, acoustic glitter, cats, chunky bangs, or peacocks–you will like Juliana’s daughter. Listen to it while you do dishes, or get ready in the morning. Lions+Tigers+Bears has a beautiful soothing effect, like being wrapped in a blanket of hopes and dreams.

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