Posts Tagged ‘Not Even Happiness’

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Not Even Happiness is lyrical nourishment for the soul. Throughout the album, Byrne’s deep, resounding voice melts into orchestral arrangements like waves lapping on a shore, as the aptly named, ‘The Sea As It Glides’ suggests. Meanwhile, the gentle pluck of guitar strings brings an earthy twang to Byrne’s solemn ode to dual existence. There is both vulnerability and quiet strength in Byrne’s observations of the natural world and her place within it. The listener is immersed in the sprawling landscapes of America’s mid-west: its vast prairies and ‘That long-forgotten feeling of silence’ that overwhelms mind, body, and soul. Byrne sings of love and heartbreak, but the album is ultimately a journey of self-discovery and self-preservation, with traces of a spiritual awakening and renewed faith in God: ‘I’ve been sitting in the garden / Singing to the wind / I’ve been searching for an anchor / I’ve been seeking God within.’

The album pretty much stopped me in my tracks when i first heard it. So delicate! So beautiful! Find a quiet space and play the single follow my voice. After spending years on the road performing as part of a fiercely independent DIY music community, Julie Byrne stayed put in New York City and coalesced the thoughts and experiences of her past few transient trips around the sun into this unnervingly beautiful album.  Not Even Happiness is a stunning combination of strong lyricism and technical skill. Byrne fingerpicks a guitar she inherited from her father and pours every ounce of herself into these compositions, laying her innermost feelings completely bare in the process.

The album has had huge support from radio already with RRR and FBI making it album of the week and Double J adding the first single. Pitchfork recently made it Best New Music!
“Here is something special” ***** The Times
Byrne paints sublime, awestruck moments when simple things become overwhelming.” Pitchfork, Best New Music
“there’s so much to love about Not Even Happiness: the lightness of the finger-picked acoustic guitar patterns, the flute and string interludes, the plaintive timbre in Byrne’s voice recalling fellow outsider folk figures Anne Briggs and Karen Dalton.” **** MOJO
“the voice is a balm” **** The Observer
“with Not Even Happiness she’s spreading her wings musically” Album of the Week, The Line Of Best Fit
“otherworldy and other-timely… for all its dreaminess, it never seems fey or contrived… stunning.” The Guardian

“one of the albums of the year” NME

A trans-American folk singer (and former park ranger) travels far and wide, only to return to the comforts of her childhood home to record a stunning, stripped-down sophomore effort.

Given Julie Byrne’s extensive record of following wherever the wind takes her, it’s tempting to read Not Even Happiness as an acoustic travelogue of the United States, or rather, her United States. It helps that the album invokes an intoxicating sequence of visual imagery that spans the continent from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, Byrne’s voice splashing watercolors across Big Sky country in the touring ballad “Natural Blue” before literally dissolving into the ocean on “Sea as It Glides”. But just as often this record turns inward, probing the depths of a twentysomething soul as it transitions from wary to wistful to weary. Each of the nine songs on Not Even Happiness is its own vast landscape, lurching and zig-zagging far more often than Byrne’s steady, delicate finger picking might suggest. Whether those landscapes turn inward or explode outward depends, one imagines, on what the listener brings to the table

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Julie Byrne is one of the most itinerant artists around right now. The Singer Songwriter Not only has moved around the U.S. living  in places like Buffalo to Pittsburgh; Chicago, Seattle and New Orleans they have all been temporary homes , but that all leads to some wonderful, varied music. Someone so keen to see new places and different environments writes beautifully about the natural world – as one might imagine. Double rainbows are featured in the gorgeous Follow My Voice; Natural Blue is about the waking dawn and new day. Scattershot themes run right through – it is one of the most adventurous records you’ll hear from a thematic perspective but is all bonded and fantastic because of Byrne’s exceptional, luscious voice. If you are looking for a singer that can buckle the knees and take you somewhere special then there are few as qualified as Julia Byrne. Synths, dreamy melodies and finger-picked songs might not sound like the ingredients to pull in the hardened Rock elite. The great thing about “Not Even Happiness” is how wide-ranging and universal it is.

Julie Byrne performs “Sleepwalker” live at The End Of the Road Festival.

Recorded at the WXPN Performance Studio on February 25th, 2017 by James Clark Conner. Mixed in Pennsylvania.

Julie Byrne’s flawless new album “Not Even Happiness” is about travel, transition, journeys, and discovery. On the first track “Follow My Voice,” she leaves behind the city for the light, the sky, and the green and on “Sleepwalker,” which you can hear as part of our in-studio session, she “crossed the country and…carried no key.” Byrne is nomadic, but she treats it like destiny, as on “I Live Now As a Singer,” where she describes how she has “dragged my life across the country and wondered if travel led me anywhere.” She sings with an inherent bravery, a deep humanity, and an admirable self-knowledge of herself, but there is always more to learn and to seek out, within and without. Not Even Happiness from its message to its music may seem simple and overly subtle, but the depth of its beauty and power are truly remarkable.

While she was in Philadelphia, Julie Byrne stopped by the WXPN Studio to perform tracks from Not Even Happiness. Even removed from a studio environment and flreshed out instrumentation, Byrne’s words and music resound with a reverberate with a magnificent grace.


Julie Byrne – vocals, guitar
Eric Littman – keys, guitar

New York based singer-songwriter Julie Byrne has announced her sophomore album, “Not Even Happiness”, is set to be released on January 27th via UK-based label Basin Rock Records.

“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’,” Byrne says in a press release. “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.”

Today, Julie Byrne has shared the song I Live Now As A Singer, the elegant closing track from her upcoming album, “Not Even Happiness”. It is Julie Byrne’s first song ever to be recorded without a guitar.


Her husky voice ebbs and swoops in one of those wordless melodies that seems like the singer is channeling some ancient wavelength, Byrne’s voice is so delicate it sounds like she’s harmonizing with a breeze, her songs are so transfixing — the sun is setting, and the magic-hour light is warm and enveloping  that those of us who’ve gathered to watch her are sitting slack-jawed.”


Not Even Happiness is out January 27th on Basin Rock Records.