Julie Byrne – “Natural Blue”

Julie Byrne writes songs that you can carry with you across long distances and endless stretches of time. The New York-based musician is most often described as a nomad; she’s lived all over, counting Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, and Northampton as transient homes. Byrne’s last offering, 2014’s Rooms With Walls And Windows, compiled her self-titled and You Would Love It Here cassettes into one collection of spindly, minimally-produced folk. Rooms With Walls And Windows is an album that I find myself returning to time and again when I’m looking for comfort. Hers are songs about losing love and losing your sense of self, about traveling and finding homes in unexpected places. There’s a loneliness to that album that most anyone can find kinship in, whether they’re forever wandering or rooted in place, wishing they were.

It has taken Byrne a few years to write Not Even Happiness, the follow-up to Rooms With Walls And Windows, which comes as no great surprise to anyone who’s familiar with her work. Byrne is a storyteller — she recounts experiences, and you can’t really write about experiences if you don’t have any. Plus, there’s a specificity to Byrne’s lyricism that lends each song to a specific place in time, descriptions of encounters with a person or space that changed life’s trajectory for a moment or maybe more. On Not Even Happiness’ debut single, “Natural Blue,” Byrne opens bleary-eyed and road-weary before admitting that it’s “been a long time since I’ve been moved.” But then, the repeating chorus grabs hold of a competing feeling not as easily forgotten: “When I first saw you/ The sky, it was such a natural blue.” And amid fiery red descriptors (sun split ember, chicory burned grass) that natural blue preserves a fleeting sense of the sublime. Listen below.

Not Even Happiness tracklist:

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”

Not Even Happiness is out 1/27 via Bada Bing Records. Pre-order it here.

CREDIT: Jonathan Bouknight
Tags: Julie Byrne