Published Jul 08, 2020Every few years, Julianna Barwick releases a new album and it's always exactly what one would expect — a cinematic, ambient journey centred entirely around her heavenly voice, which is looped and gently drawn through pristine reverb. Now based in Los Angeles, Barwick's fourth full-length Healing Is a Miracle is a natural continuation of her euphoric songwriting, while sounding a bit more polished and intentional as she channels her energy towards specific areas for healing of the mind and body.
"In Light" patiently shivers in solitude, building up warmth and a caring touch with the help of Sigur Rós's Jónsi, whose highly recognizable croon aligns wonderfully with Barwick's spine-tingling murmurs. Like-minded instrumentalist Mary Lattimore adds twinkling harp to Barwick's low, circular piano on "Oh, Memory," while the closeness of Barwick's voice lightly stretches and folds into itself. "Safe" is a perfect example of Barwick transforming layers of her own voice, gradually sweeping into a soothing a cappella climax.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, "Flowers" rattles with bone-shaking unease and weariness as Barwick's sporadic whispers echo against a jarring, electrified pulse. "Nod" features producer Nosaj Thing, who incorporates a dampened mechanical drone that amplifies Barwick's breathless vocal expansions into an all-encompassing bliss — a chilling ending to the record.
Like all of Barwick's work, Healing Is a Miracle is an exercise in meditation and tracing the natural flow of emotion within. Barwick masterfully creates a temporary escape from reality which relaxes tensions that slowly surrender and dissolve into its harmless components. (Ninja Tune)