Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 32:37 minutes | 335 MB | Genre: Alternative
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: 7Digital | Front cover | © Basin Rock
Not Even Happiness is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Julie Byrne. The album was recorded and mixed in Byrne’s hometown of Buffalo, New York, except for string arrangements by Jake Falby, which were recorded at a cabin in Holderness, New Hampshire. Her new album has the lucidity and tactility of a healing crystal. Not unlike Phil Elverum, she paints sublime, awestruck moments when simple things become overwhelming. The album is labeled as a contemporary folk release. According to Ed Nash of The Line of Best Fit, Not Even Happiness features leitmotifs of “nature and matters of the heart”.
A transient singer/songwriter who was raised in Buffalo, New York, Julie Byrne returned not only to her hometown but to the house where she grew up to record Not Even Happiness, her Ba Da Bing Records debut. Not new to recording, her prior work includes additional vocals for Jordan Lee’s more expansive but similarly pastoral Mutual Benefit, as well as cassettes of her own material. Here, she reestablishes what has been her trademark: delicate, dreamy folk governed by a quiet melancholia. Throughout, guitar picking and the squeak of fingers changing position accompany a soft, smoky vocal delivery that seems resigned to solitude. Frequent comparisons to Joni Mitchell are apt, though only Mitchell at her gentlest, as Byrne floats through a track list that includes titles like “Follow My Voice,” “Sleepwalker,” and “All the Land Glimmers Beneath.” “Morning Dove” has a chorus reinforced by the muted hum of string-like synths. The song remembers the sound of singing “from your lips, which splashed my dollhouse with music,” in a time before betrayal. With a hint of bossa nova, “The Sea as It Glides” has syncopated acoustic guitar eventually joined by electronics, underscored throughout by the sound of waves along the shore. Water and the notion of solitude together capture the sound and spirit of the album, at least in broad strokes. In fact, the title Not Even Happiness was inspired by a sunrise stroll along the Atlantic during which the songwriter caught herself thinking that she wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything, “not even happiness.” While the album makes more of an impression as a whole than do individual songs, it makes a lasting one.
01 – Follow My Voice
02 – Sleepwalker
03 – Melting Grid
04 – Natural Blue
05 – Interlude
06 – Morning Dove
07 – All the Land Glimmered
08 – Sea as It Glides
09 – I Live Now as a Singer