New York’s Julie Byrne creates some of the most spellbinding folk music today. Her 2014 debut, Rooms With Walls and Windows, captured our attention with its stunning simplicity. Byrne now has followed that record with the enchanting Not Even Happiness, which builds on the beauty of her debut but offers a more expansive approach. The result is what we anticipate to be one of the year’s finest records.
From the first finger-picked notes and opening lines of “Follow My Voice,” Byrne creates this delicate, warm feeling that carries through the whole record. It is graceful, intimate, yet emotionally crippling as she recalls the passing of someone dear.
Follow my voice, I am right here
Beyond this life and beyond all fear
The clouds are passin’ by on by my darlin’
On top of her magical voice and stirring guitar work, other instruments are occasionally introduced, such as the addition of horns on “Melting Grid.” The horns are perfectly executed to create a wonderful feeling that bookends the song. Then there are the strings on “Natural Blue” that add a lush layer of sound under Byrne’s voice.
On “Morning Dove” and “All The Land Glimmered,” the New York City resident’s voice is soft, rarely moving beyond a whisper. The approach creates a cozy bond between Byrne and the listener where the only thing between them is delicately finger-picked guitar. Moments focused on travel, growth, and change are infused throughout the album as well. “The Sea as it Glides” features some really gorgeous harmonies, as Byrne takes the listener on a journey to a faraway place. The record comes to a close with the lush, synth-laden track, “I Live Now As A Singer.” Byrne’s vocals reach an Enya-like quality, leaving listeners in a complete trance. The experience is absolutely breathtaking.
Today may be the perfect time to listen to Julie Byrne’s Not Even Happiness, especially if it is chilly where you are. The warmth of Julie Byrne’s voice along with her inviting lyrics are enough to warm even the coldest days. Not Even Happiness is another wonderful record in Byrne’s discography and helps set her stand out in a very crowded indie-folk scene.
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