Perfect Version, the debut solo album from Chastity Belt singer/guitarist Julia Shapiro, was recently released, which is very much suitable for fans of Lucy Dackus, Elliott Smith and Julia Jacklin, in it’s reflection, and reverie.

Julia recorded virtually every instrument on Perfect Version herself, which is astounding to note. The album is conceptual, Shapiro tries on different shoes throughout the record, the thematic core of the album is this notion of what it would be like to be a perfect version of yourself. The opener Natural begins with lyrics “How can someone be so blindly confident/I wanna know that trick,” questioning what it really takes to indeed love yourself.

April 2018 was really a turning point for Julia Shapiro, whilst still performing with Chastity Belt. She had wanted for a long time to learn how to record and mix her own music, and due to her suffering with mental health at the time, she started to write and record the tracks that would culminate Perfect Version, her solo debut for Hardly Art. Intimate and self-aware, there is something wondrous about this album that explores that feeling of being lost in the life you’ve created for yourself. Layered vocals and scintillating guitars make up the crux of the tracks on this album of dream-pop that ponders on a life lost.

Self-improvement is a thread which sits in many of the songs on Perfect Version. But then with an alum with that title, what would you expect?Whether it’s learning a skill and living out in the woods, going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even more present and current lyrics such as “I should really delete my Instagram.” 

Her tracks are interesting, if you look beyond the aesthetic, revelling in those profound lyrics. And it was her way to feel like she was still in control, creating art amidst a time of feeling like it was slipping away from her. Sadly, however, if you listen to purely the superficial elements of the album, there is not much variety to the sound. Subdued, with guitar and drums, and dreary vocals, it could perhaps lose listener’s attention unless they go towards the undergrowth.

Perfect Version is out now, on Hardy Art.