TUNE Julie Byrne - Natural Blue (Radio Edit)
ometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not for Julie Byrne; whose power of lyrical expression and musical nous seems inborn. Often what comes naturally cannot be driven by speed and time. Julie's second album, Not Even Happiness, has evolved at its own pace. It spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers of the California coast, and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Her new album vividly archives what would have otherwise been lost to the road, and in doing so, Byrne exhibits her extraordinarily innate musicality.
Some of the songs on Not Even Happiness took years of fine tuning to reach their fruition. If you asked her why the follow up to 2014's Rooms With Walls and Windows has taken so long, you'd be greeted with a bewildered expression melted into a smile - as though the strangest question had just been asked. "Writing comes from a natural process of change and growth. It took me up to this point to have the capacity to express my experience of the time in my life that these songs came from."
Julie Byrne has counted Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans and Northampton, Massachusetts as her transient homes in recent years. For now, she's settled in New York City, moonlighting as a seasonal urban park ranger in Central Park. Whether witnessing the Pacific Northwest for the first time ('Melting Grid'), the morning sky in the mountains of Boulder ('Natural Blue'), or a journey fragrant with rose water; reading Frank O'Hara aloud from the passengers seat during a drive through the Utah desert into the rainforest of Washington State ('The Sea As It Glides'), Not Even Happiness is Julie's beguilingly ode to the fringes of life.
"The title of the album comes from a letter I wrote to a friend after a trip to Riis Park's 'The People's Beach', it was the first warm afternoon of the year. I walked alongside the Atlantic as the Earth came alive for the sun. There was a palpable sense of emergence to everything. I felt it in myself too, and remember thinking I would trade that feeling for nothing...not even happiness."
Her debut album was released back in January 2014 on Chicago based DIY label Orindal after initially being as two separate cassettes releases. Rooms With Walls and Windows went onto become a true modern-day word of mouth success story (it would have to be for an artist who shuns all forms of social media) and ended the year being voted number 7 in Mojo magazine's best albums of the year, with the Huffington Post calling it "2014's Great American Album". A collection of hushed intimate front porch psych-fol songk, that unknowingly recalled the greats, but felt very much for our time. It saw her travel to Europe over two summers playing the Green Man festival and End Of The Road, as well as lesser trodden tour paths around Italy.
Julie Byrne will take the songs from Not Even Happiness (the first release on a new record label Basin Rock, based in the Lancashire / Yorkshire border town of Todmorden) on the road throughout 2017.