How To Walk Away
Ye Olde Records
The cover of How to Walk Away features a thin Juliana Hatfield against a backdrop of the sky with arms and legs in motion and her face turned to the side. Hatfield’s slight frame contrasts with the fullness of the songs on her 10th solo album. How to Walk Away‘s ten songs are accessible and pleasing to the ear — a 180-degree difference from her last album, Made in China. But that’s how Hatfield swings, alternating her records from pretty pop to scrappy rock.
Producer Andy Chase (Ivy) infused How to Walk Away with lush, evocative layers without drowning Hatfield’s innate wryness. Case in point, “Shining On” is a five-minute power ballad that would play perfectly during the closing credits of some big-budget-triumph-against-all-odds Hollywood movie. But (and this is a big but), it’s not the least bit cheesy or fake-sounding.
The soothing pop of How to Walk Away isn’t a total departure from Hatfield’s previous efforts. “This Lonely Love” uses the same guitar and piano riff as “It Should’ve Been You” from 2004’s Exile in Deo — Hatfield’s last album for Zoe Records.
Chase wasn’t alone in creating How to Walk Away‘s rich sound. Guest musicians contributed their talents to various songs. Richard Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) sang on “This Lonely Love” and “Such a Beautiful Girl,” respectively. Fountains of Wayne guitarist Jody Porter played some lead guitar and Tracy Bonham (of the mid-90s hit “Mother, Mother”) guested on violin. Hatfield’s brother Jason played piano on two songs he co-wrote, “Remember November” and “Such a Beautiful Girl.”
Hatfield has hinted that How to Walk Away may be her last album. That’s fitting considering that leaving is the common thread that weaves through this record’s lyrics. Hatfield calmly sings in the opening track, “I finally wised up/but the fact remains/I stayed too long.” However, the various emotions that Hatfield explores with walking away are not all somber. “Now I’m Gone” is a fun kiss-off song with punchy chords.
If Hatfield does indeed walk away after this album, at least her face was turned toward us.
Juliana Hatfield: www.julianahatfield.com