Year: 2017 Producer: Julie Byrne Label: Ba Da Bing Genre: Contemporary Folk
‘Not Even Happiness’ is the second LP of the New York based singer/songwriter Julie Byrne. Byrne has a couple of EPs and an LP to her name already but this album can be considered her ‘breakthrough’, or at least her most widespread, release to date.
The album is ultimately quite a straightforward acoustic folk album, but it’s executed so well. The instrumentation is so thin throughout this thing, it’s mostly just Byrne’s vocals and an acoustic guitar lightly dusted with some synths – with the overall sound being extremely ethereal. The soft and delicate timbre of Byrne’s voice coupled with the pleasant guitar plucking makes for extremely floaty and heavenly music. In fact, I got the impression that if you listened to this music whilst revisiting your hometown where you’d grown up it’d be extremely nostalgic and emotional.
I did fear that this album would be too uniform and that it would suffer from it. But I think this is a subjective point, I found the album to be pleasant to listen to all the way through – this was probably due to the very comfortable and ideal running time of 30 minutes. If it were any longer then it would’ve probably caused some problems and maybe Byrne was aware of this when organising the tracklist.
It’s fair to say this album only has one gear really – in terms of dynamics, tempo, instrumentation, and tone. But this isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s extremely passive but it’s equally pleasant to listen to right from the off. Fans of folk should definitely check it out.
Top Tracks: Follow My Voice, Sleepwalker, Melting Grid, Morning Dove