The music industry is changing drastically every day but Julia Nunes has found the key to success despite it all with her fourth album Settle Down. Nunes got her start making videos on Youtube, where she quickly garnered a dedicated following that would eventually lead up to her most professional album so far. Settle Down will be the album to grab even more listeners, especially after Nunes’ recent appearance on Conan, barefoot and playing her new song “Stay Awake.”
Although she’s gaining more attention lately for her original, refreshing songwriting, she’s released four albums prior to Settle Down. Her first album, Left Right Wrong, was released in 2007, followed by I Wrote These, an EP entitled I Think You Know and an album of covers. Nunes, now 23, started off modestly on Youtube by playing covers of everything from “Jesus Walks” to “Build Me Up Buttercup” on her guitar and ukulele in her Skidmore dorm room. Acoustic covers mixed with her signature charm and humor soon led to videos of her own original songs (look up the original videos for “Into the Sunshine” and “Maybe I Will”). Her videos, known for their intricate layering of harmonies and various instruments, got the attention of Ben Folds, who personally asked her to open for him in concert in 2008. This gig led her to play at Bonnaroo in 2009 and touring the U.S. with musician Ben Kweller. She now has more than 200,000 subscribers on her Youtube channel but hasn’t lost touch with her fans or quality of her music.
Along with Youtube, her Kickstarter campaign entitled “Julia Nunes would be nothing without me” helped Nunes raise $77,888 last year — a bit more than her $15,000 goal — allowing her to record her songs professionally in a studio. Settle Down will mark her first album on a real label. Her previous albums were released on the label she founded called Rude Butler Records. In the months leading up to the release of the new album, Nunes made short videos to accompany the vignette songs on the album and other various covers to keep her devoted fans happy. The Kickstarter campaign was a huge success and the new album is proof, with the final results being the best quality music she has ever made.
Old and new fans alike will enjoy remastered versions of “Odd,” “Comatose,” “Maybe I Will,” “Balloons” and more. She’s managed to improve her older work, and tighten up her sound without sacrificing her unique style. It’s clear from what she chose to include on the album that she has grown from her first Beach Boys cover on Youtube. Her lyrics are simple and honest, yet she has a song for every indescribable mood you may be in (not to mention every part of a relationship). Her music refuses to fit into the modern confines of pop or indie rock. Everything about her and her music defies modern labels and definitions.
In “Comatose” she belts out: “I don’t really know if I’m lying to you or hiding the truth from myself” and in the same breath, “you deserve to feel dumb if you thought I was somebody else”. “Maybe I Will,” on the other hand, is a dynamic and optimistic track about taking risks in love, while “Balloons” shows off a poignant, more nostalgic side of Nunes that longs for a lost friendship and faraway time. Another new stand out track on Settle Down, “Nothing’s That Great,” is still catchy while warning listeners not to waste their best years “trying to pass for twenty-one.”
Settle Down is a mix of old and new with vignettes like “He Is Mad” and “Pizza” interspersed as reminders that despite her incredible talent and increasing fame, she’s still as light-hearted and earnest as ever. Although she might not have planned it, her journey from Youtube to Settle Down will stand out as an example for other independent artists who don’t want to sacrifice their music to a big label. Julia Nunes is on the cusp of something great. She’s taken the path less traveled to produce her exciting new album and promises to be a source of fresh music in years to come.