JULIE DELPY: DANCING AT DUSK


Julie Delpy: An Ocean Apart + A Waltz For a Night
From Julie Delpy (Import, 2003). Also on Before Sunrise/Sunset Soundtrack

Ok, I admit: 1) I didn’t know Julie Delpy sang, 2) I didn’t watch Before Sunset until the other week even though the film came out in 2004, 3) my wife and I actually quite liked the film since it’s about what happens when you grow out of your idealistic, uber-romantic 20s and “real life s—” intrudes and leaves you a little scarred and traumatized by it all.

What’s rather interesting…or perhaps strange is that the songs above came out on Delpy’s album before ending up on the soundtrack of Before Sunset even though these two songs in particular seem to speak to the narrative of both Sunset and Before Sunrise. I wonder if Delpy’s songwriting was influenced by the fact that she may have already begun writing on Before Sunset before her album dropped.

In any case, let’s point out that Delpy doesn’t have that dynamic a voice and her lyrics tend to favor straight-forward sentiment over nuance. But let’s also point out that she has a surprising effective voice for the kind of folk-rock style she’s working in, plus the vocal arrangements are surprisingly interesting and hell, it’s not like unadorned awkwardness is much better or worse than gilded pretentiousness.

If I recall correctly, “An Ocean Apart” opens the film – and quite effectively – it’s lush, sweet and achingly melancholy, setting the tone for the movie itself. “A Waltz For a Night” bookends the film by coming at the very end, where Delpy sings it, with just an acoustic guitar, in her Paris apartment. I actually preferred that version – the soundtrack/album recording is very nice and had I heard it first, I might have a different opinion about it but I found the purely acoustic take to be more nakedly vulnerable in a way I think the song aspires to.

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