While growing up on a farm in Louisiana, Julianna Barwick discovered a tree in the back pasture of the property whose branches grew all around and deemed it “the magic place.” On her release of the same name, Barwick gives us a look into the refuge of her childhood through song.
Taking inspiration from her time spent in church choirs, Barwick creates an album ideally performed in a cathedral rather than a concert hall; she records and loops her vocals to create a spacious sound that would resonate brightly on the best acoustics, and develop into a chorus of one.
The album begins with “Envelop,” a track whose title best suits its sound. Barwick literally engulfs listeners in rich layers of vocals. The title track does the same and evokes a feeling of blossoming, as if Barwick were opening up her magic place to everyone.
Instrumentation is used more frequently on this album than in Barwick’s previous works, but that’s not to say we hear less of her angelic voice. She incorporates a low-range synth to fill space where her voice can’t reach, and often a piano that is both beautiful and haunting. Like her vocals, the piano is often distant and playing along to its own melodic line. It’s also used in many of The Magic Place’s outros as Barwick’s vocals fade out. Though her lyrics are incoherent, Barwick tells a story on this album that is up for interpretation depending on the listener as if Barwick created the music just for her.