Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount is a sweetly trippy, magical musical trio led by dreamy flaxen-blonde vocalist/keyboardist Julia and flanked by her happily-raging rhythm section, Geoff B. Gibbs (bass) and Dominic Cortese (drums).
On their new full-length album Five Letters From Far Away Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount make a glorious, gorgeous racket referencing both the stately side and sonorous adventures of several decades of Joni Mitchell, and the boisterous ambience of Beta Band, Mates of State, or The Books. Also, they kinda make “children’s songs for adults” like They Might Be Giants (“my mom keeps saying I should make a kids’ album!” Julia says).
Five Letters From Far Away is a brave story referring to the letters Julia’s dad wrote for her while she was growing up, one each year on her birthday. The intention was to give them to her on her 18th birthday. But then he passed away when she was 15. Her mother gave her the letters and they have been a source of love and encouragement for her throughout her life, reflected in her writing and performing. The urgent, adorable, propulsive opener, “TOP 100” the breathe-along “Sri Ma,” and the anthemic acoustic guitar-led closer “Here Is A Stone Wall” show how beautifully Julia was inspired by her father’s gift. And how majestically her band gets that message of love, grace, and forgiveness across.
Julia and Geoff and Dom share a deep passion for Pho between playing their own private festivals -- while also playing out at legendary Seattle venues like the Triple Door and the Showbox (along with the Tractor, Sunset, and Barboza) with similarly adept and inspired artists as Camille Bloom, Robb Benson, Red Jacket Mine, Carla Torgerson, Wayne Horvitz, the Hoot Hoots, the Great Um, and many others.
Listening to Five Letters From Far Away is homegrown band bliss, as it was written over the course of a year, engineered and recorded by Geoff in Dom's house for over a month, and then produced by London Bridge local recording legend David Miner at HIS own house. Its bright cosmic journeys and dusky blues-pop sounds just like a bunch of friends that love to dance whilst it plays its own music, which always they do (even Dom bashing away behind his kit).
“The new album feels like a culminating effort at this point,” Julia says. Matching the openness of the lyrics, “We have a wider expanse in this music than we used to have -- more instrumental passages, tastes of different genres, etc. The main difference on this record that we haven’t really explored before, is letting it be so music-led, and stopped worrying about what people expect. We want to surprise folks, the way that making this music shocked us as we put it together.”