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People Have Names
Artist: Juliet Turner
Label: Universal

I have been following Juliet Turner's career since the beginning. I don't mean since I first heard her debut album Pizza and Wine I mean since I told her to start singing! Well, she was singing in church, but I felt that she had the ability--if given the right songs--to be more than a guest singer at Methodist harvest services in rural County Tyrone. I also told her to start writing her own songs and was there when she sang the first one live at a little venue I ran at the back of Trinity College Dublin. I really have been there since the beginning. And it has made me pretty subjective in what I have written about her. I was thrilled when I heard the fullness of the production on her Irish hit album Burn the Black Suit, and I still continually rediscover the delights of the Season of the Hurricane, but if I was being really honest, something still lacked objectively. In all the attempts to make albums sell, I wasn't sure that Juliet had found her own authentic voice. I think this idea might have had some part to play in her recent decision to go back to college and put music on the back burner. When you are recording albums to be bigger hits than the last, the art can be lost, ignored or denied.

I say all of this because People Have Names is an authentic work of Juliet Turner's art. This mature work is that of a woman finding herself and her muse without the same commercial pressures of the past few years. Yes, "Trickster" has been given some radio-friendly concentration of thought, but elsewhere the production and arrangements are for the enhancement of what the real substance is--that substance is Turner's literary songs, crafted and full of her own quirks, scanning the horizon of a thirty-something life to make some sense of it. Turner has what all the best writers have had: this ability to watch the world and draw profound three- or four-minute comment.

Here, her observation powers scan world issues in songs like "Luisa," which tackles America's invasive colonialism, and "Trickster," which jousts with the spirit of the age. But she is also acutely aware of the everyday ordinary issues going on in her own space, like on "Tuesday Night Ladies," about her thirty-something mates getting through work and marriage, and "Pick A Story," written for a friend's new daughter. Best of all is "Elder Of The Tribe," about one of those very people who gave Juliet's sister great advice: "Take care of your lovely young life / It's all that you get / you don't get no more." The title track, dedicated to the L'Arche community, where she has recently been working, ends the album on a gentle sermonic inspiration and challenge: "It is the work of a lifetime / to love and be loved in return / to love to the end." Through these songs, Turner gives people names and a voice and makes it a joy to hear them.

Steve Stockman

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has written two books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 which he is currently updating and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at . He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.

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