The debut solo album.
In 1992, the Blake Babies were slowly coming to and end. John and Freda had moved away from Boston, Freda had missed the European tour due to illness although the band were still officially together, Juliana was starting to emerge as an artist in her own right and this album was put out with the band seemingly on hiatus.
Juliana was brought to many peoples’ attention in Europe by the English music press, who had belatedly picked up on the Blake Babies and it helped her profile that she had contributed to the Lemonheads breakthrough album “It’s A Shame About Ray”, released around the same time.
The opener, Everybody Loves Me But You still sounds as fresh today and remains a live favourite. A perfect indie guitar pop moment from the opening bars and as a “debut” pop single one of the best.
Second single I See You is similar in lyrical and musical style to the work of the Blake Babies (it would fit quite easily as a song on Earwig). Nirvana (re-recorded having previously been available on the last Blake Babies record) describes how hearing a song can break your mood and for a moment, give you an adrenaline rush, where nothing else in the world matters. The lyrics fit perfectly with the uplifting chorus and yes there are times when we all want to go and “fuck shit up”.
Guitar licks and instrumental breaks litter the album with touches of extended feedback to offer a hint of what was to come with the Only Everything album.
It took nearly two decades from its release for Juliana to publicly express affection for Hey Babe. A landmark album in many ways.
Laura Fisher's words assess it far more eloquently:
Hey Babe’s landscape of feelings — self-disgust, second-guessing, depression, cautious optimism — have no place in a reception model that hinged strictly on “empowerment.” If Hey Babe’s tone of general malcontent has endeared the album to alienated listeners over the past 21 years, it has also kept the album from wider recognition. This reflects our cultural preference for “vehement passions” over “minor feelings.” As theorist Sianne Ngai notes of the Western literary tradition, “something about the cultural canon itself seems to prefer higher passions and emotions — as if minor or ugly feelings were not only incapable of producing ‘major’ works, but somehow disabled the works they do drive from acquiring canonical distinction.” This explains a lot about Hatfield’s disappearance from the alternative rock narrative.
An outstanding article. Read the whole thing at The New Inquiry.
March 2018 - via American Laundromat Records