Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Jan-Feb Contents STONE CUPID
STONE CUPID MUSIC
When Julie Christensen moved from California to
Tennessee three years ago she left behind an incredible
musical legacy. After fronting a country rock band in her
native Iowa City and spending a period of time in Austin,
Christensen moved to Los Angeles where she found
herself at the fore of the burgeoning West Coast punk rock
In 1983 Christensen joined forces with Chris D from the
Flesh Eaters and formed Divine Horsemen. The band
released a bevy of recordings and included among its
ranks the Kid Congo Powers from the Cramps, Jeffery Lee
Pierce of Gun Club and Wall of Voodoo’s Stan Ridgeway.
Before breaking up in 1988 the collective gave the world a
hearty taste of roots-infused punk music.
Christensen went on to lend her considerable vocal
prowess to an array of contemporary greats, singing with
Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Public Image Limited, Van Dyke Parks,
John Doe, Lou Reed, and kd lang. Alongside Perla Batalla
she spent a number of years in the company of Leonard
Cohen singing backing vocals on two world tours and at
Hal Wilner ’s Came So Far For Beauty: An Evening Of Songs
By Leonard Cohen series.
“I’ve taken something away from every one of those
experiences,” Christensen recently told Rhythms Magazine.
“It’s that journey that’s got me to where I am now.”
Her current place of being is with a Nashville-based band
called Stone Cupid.
Shortly after relocating to East Nashville, Christensen met
guitarist and studio owner Chris Tench. Instantly bonding
over her West Coast punk roots, the two pulled together a
band of like-minded musicians that included local guitarist
Sergio Webb, bassist Bones Hillman, and drummer Steve
After a gig at East Nashville landmark The Family Wash in
the middle of 2014, the collective quickly hatched a plan
“ We played the gig and then looked at each other and
asked ‘what’s next?” recalled Christensen. “We planned to
go into the studio in May 2015, but during a band meeting
in February we brought it forward to March. It wasn’t much
time to pull it all together, but simpatico is what really
drives this band.”
Christensen brought in Jeff Turmes who produced
her previous album, Weeds Like Us, to co-produce the
sessions. The result is a 13-track album titled The Cardinal,
which, along a selection of her own songs, features
compositions, by the likes of Chuck Prophet, Dan
Navarro, David Olney, and Leonard Cohen.
The album opens with the sublime electric guitar-
driven title track.
“I started off trying to write a pretty song about a
cardinal,” Christensen said. “But while reminiscing
about my youth at a school with a cardinal mascot,
it went south and almost turned into a stark
Appalachian murder ballad. But then the band got
a hold of it and rocked it out.”
That approach set the stage for much of the
recording with electric guitar reining supreme
across the course of the album. ‘Shed My Skin
is a jaunty serving of alternative-country while
‘Riverside’ with its Crazy Horse overtones is a growling ode
about the destructive behavior that can drive us all.
Full of anger and angst, Stone Cupid roars into ‘Gasoline’
with the origins of the song stemming from Christensen’s
bewilderment with big oil in her own hometown.
“After living in Ventura County in Southern California for
18 years, I finally went to the Oil Museum in Santa Paula in
the corridor where all that ‘There Will Be Blood’ crap went
down,” she explained. “It blew my mind and I wrote this
stomping rant of a song on the way back up the hill to my
serene rural home.”
The beautiful ballad, ‘Down 100 Floors’, which is
understatedly driven by chiming banjo and shuffling
brushes, was written after a friend lost their only child.
“Just about everyone who has experienced love has
experienced loss, but a loss like that is unimaginable,”
Christensen said. “Where do you go after something like
that? Grief is the price you pay for love.”
Among the covers there are versions of Chuck Prophet’s
‘Would You Love Me?’ and Kevin Gordon’s ‘Saint On A
Chain’. Christensen turns in a particularly sublime rendition
of the former with her persuasive vocals providing the
perfect vehicle for Prophet’s quirky lyrical sensibility.
Fittingly rounding out the album is a rendition of Leonard
“I’m so proud of, and grateful for, my time working with
Leonard Cohen,” Christensen said. “I sang with a choir
of famous backup singers on the original version of this
song. I also sang a duet of it with Perla Batalla in the
feature documentary on Cohen. It’s just a great song of
pain-informed hope.” Brett Leigh Dicks
Links Archive 2016 Mar-Apr Navigation Previous Page Next Page