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Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 14:08 UK
Stephen Morris reviews unsigned singer/songwriter, Juey

By Stephen Morris
Website contributor

In a previous incarnation, Juey was one half of Go See Gretchen

Callisto will mean different things to different people.

To astronomers Callisto is one of Jupiter's four major moons. Blur fans will recognise the celestial body's name from Alex James' 'Far Out' on Parklife.

To fans of Greek mythology she is the nymph transformed into a bear.

Fans of X-Men comics (sorry, graphic novels) will know Callisto as the anti-heroic leader of the subterranean Morlocks.

Meanwhile, if you like Xena: Warrior Princess, you will already know that Callisto is one of the title characters' enemies who first becomes immortal, then a demon and is then transformed into an angel.

No? Me neither.

For the folk-country singer/songwriter Juey, though, Callisto means something else entirely.

Potentially named after all, some or none of the above astronomical, mythological or pop-cultural references, Juey's Callisto is the cause of very personal heartbreak and despair.

"You'll be the end of me," Juey sings on the opening song of her EP, Before the Devil Catches Me.

The result is an enticing but deceptive set of songs which may seem light at first until the hidden depths of the dark lyrics are heard and understood.
Stephen Morris

That single line seems to sum up the major theme of her record.

Unsurprisingly, the song is called Callisto.

Callisto appears by name in two songs on Before the Devil…, but her presence seems to be felt on other tracks as well.

In the first song, she is the source of tensions in a relationship: "One minute we're hot, one minute we're not… my brakes are wearing thin".

By See You on the Other Side, Callisto's roving eye and neglect has nearly provoked her own murder: "I throw her in the water and I keep her pressed down/her body pauses/time stands still/there's no one else around".

In between these two songs, Something Outta Nothing treads a similar path, berating a partner who spends "all my money but you never worked a day" and has no pride: "It's just take, take, take/I can't stretch anymore" runs the chorus.

The identity of this layabout is not mentioned in this song, but she doesn't seem that far removed from the Callisto of other songs.


It may be that, with Callisto firmly left in the past, the title track (and EP finale) Before the Devil Catches Me is a more upbeat song in which resolutions are made to move on in life: "That's why I'm off to chase the devil before the devil catches me".

An absolutely literal interpretation of that line would see two figures going around and around in circles as they run after each other.

But that's probably me just being pedantic…

The two other songs on the EP have entirely different themes.

There's the philosophical A Living To Be Made which considers various scenes from nature and juxtaposes them with aspects of life: "Like the birds singing in the trees there's a living to be made/Well I'll sing a song for you/bare my heart and soul and watch you".

There is, undoubtedly a theme of love and relationships here, but there is not so much bitterness as can be found elsewhere.

Memories of Victory, meanwhile considers entirely different themes as Juey tries to empathise with someone going to war "for England's glory": "I'll never face the horror of two sides of fighting warriors".


Musically, Juey's songs are gentle folk/country ballads.

It's all driven by an acoustic guitar with accompaniment from a sedate bluegrass banjo.

The result is an enticing but deceptive set of songs which may seem light at first until the hidden depths of the dark lyrics are heard and understood.

The pace quickens in the final track of Before the Devil Catches Me which is something of a chilled out hoe down (if that is at all possible).

A detuned fiddle adds to the mix for the instrumentals as the upbeat lyrics consider moving on and making a new life.

Juey has appeared on these pages before.

In a previous incarnation, she was one half of a duo called Go See Gretchen.

It was as part of this act that her Something Outta Nothing first came to be heard.

Well-deserved recognition

No sooner had my 2007 review of the band's songs been published it seemed that the group had dissolved.

It's a fast paced world, the folk/country scene. Or so it would seem.

It is good to hear of Juey's return, singing her own brand of gentle folk/country songs.

Added to that comes the news that three of the songs from Before the Devil… recently reached the semi-finals of a UK Songwriting Competition.

The short listings are a well-deserved recognition of Juey talents as a song writer.

Each of the songs on this EP paint tender portraits of the rawest of emotions and poignant meditations on the joys and sorrows of life.

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