Julie Byrne
Not Even Happiness


4.0
excellent

Review

by Atari STAFF
January 29th, 2017 | 55 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You are where you've been

There’s something completely organic about Julie Byrne’s approach on Not Even Happiness. With a voice that powerfully echoes above the strums of her trusty guitar, Byrne’s sophomore effort exudes a sense of complete inner peace. The reflective opening track makes this immediately apparent: the clearly audible sound of her fingers sliding along each note convey the singer’s strongest sentiments. Seeing the world from edge to edge has given Julie Byrne a sense of wisdom and contentment that can’t be faked – and when she gently hums “Follow my voice, I am right here/Beyond this life, beyond all fear” on the serene opener – there’s an unshakeable feeling Byrne knows something we don’t.

And that’s probably because she does. Having spent a good deal of her time in between cities -- and even without a home as a declared nomad -- Not Even Happiness is an album shaped entirely from personal experience. Julie Byrne has taken in the scenery from various perspectives, for better and for worse. This true-to-life knowledge gives her a lot to reflect on, and she seems completely free within her vivid recollections. “Sleepwalker” confirms the singer’s ability to transform her sincere stories into breezy melodies meshed with strong lyricism: "I'll cross the country and I carry no key/Couldn’t I look up at the stars from anywhere?/And sometimes I did, I felt ancient.” These sort of potent, little revelations are abundant throughout Not Even Happiness, always backed by Byrne’s carefully-picked guitar. Her playing is intricate but flexible, always adding to the atmosphere of her music without taking away from her pleasant performance. Clearly, the guitar is the instrument of choice here, but several tracks are given a touch up with some gorgeously soft orchestration. “Natural Blue” and “Follow My Voice” are adorned with moving strings sections, whereas “Melting Grid” uses bright flutes to lead into Byrne’s more poetic side. These extra layers add some ambience to the overall package, washing over the listener with a warming touch.

There’s a well known saying that you are what you eat, and Julie Byrne’s latest makes it apparent you’re also very much where you’ve been. Be it the melancholic guitar-picking used to express utter sadness on “Morning Dove”, or the meditative synths that wrap around her intimate croon on “I Live Now as a Singer”, each moment paints a glowing portrait of Byrne’s colorful life experiences on the road. On each and every song, her performance exhibits a natural and believable energy that keeps things alluring even during its quietest moments. It’s that feeling -- like she’s baring her soul with each tender retrospection -- that makes Not Even Happiness feel like such a forbidden pleasure to the listener. Each time you listen to it, you feel like you’re gaining a little piece of rare knowledge from the singer’s weathered and experienced life. It’s hard to fault an album that makes you feel such a connection, and Byrne’s latest does just that. Whether she’s reminiscing about double rainbows (“Follow Me Home”) or crushing beetles to make dye (“Melting Grid”), it’s an album full of color and life; a stark contrast to the black and white art that accompanies it.




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user ratings (63)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2017


22290 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first review since posting 5 in October, feeling a tad rusty not gonna lie. feedback is always appreciated



this is the first album I've really loved this year. It's pretty mellow but the lyrics really add a lot to this for me

Digging: Sorority Noise - You're Not As ____ As You Think

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 29th 2017


23152 Comments


Never heard anything else by her but this intrigues me

Digging: bansheebeat - Lumine

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2017


22290 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hope u dig, my man. Did u check the embedded track?



I hadn't heard her other stuff either until I caught wind of this album. Rooms with walls and windows definitely has more of a lo-fi, static-filled aesthetic, but I dig them both

TheUnmoored
January 29th 2017


108 Comments


Listening to it now. Loving the melodies so far. Hearing a lot of potential here.

FullOfSounds
January 29th 2017


13827 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review. Album's nice enough, I just wish it was more intimate. Like I felt she could have done sooo much more with the ocean wave sounds.

Digging: Crying - Beyond The Fleeting Gales

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2017


30369 Comments


gonna grab this bc u liked it but i heard it was bleh

FullOfSounds
January 29th 2017


13827 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is anti-acad music

Dewinged
January 29th 2017


3034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice seeing a review from you Atari, and glad you did this one. This is such a huge step up from "Rooms...", I am falling in love with it pretty quickly. It's interesting you see colours in this album, to me it feels quite darkish.

Digging: Moon Hooch - The Joshua Tree

FullOfSounds
January 29th 2017


13827 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Haha I knew you wouldn't be too far behind when this came out

Dewinged
January 30th 2017


3034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, my comment didn't get through. Sput is weird again.



But yeah Full! I was excited for this album and it's better than I expected.

RadicalEd
January 30th 2017


8115 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Meh this is okay

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2017


12417 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is butt, and I mean BUTT, average



If you thought Lana del Rey has way too much goin' on...here's the diet version

Digging: Dark - Round the Edges

Dewinged
January 30th 2017


3034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol doof



I never liked Lana of the king, so will stick to the diet version

Daedus
January 31st 2017


109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's pretty alright!



Her vocals carry a lot of emotional weight, but she's not really saying much.



Still enjoyable for what it is.

RadicalEd
January 31st 2017


8115 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Meh, on second listen this isn't as okay as I thought. It's just painfully boring.

Lucid
January 31st 2017


7620 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2017


12417 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It is quite boring...and she's operating in the most over subscribed field ever. You bring it or you get your eyes scratched out by two thousand other folkstresses waiting in the wings, just ready to steal your spot in the limelight

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2017


22290 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"gonna grab this bc u liked it but i heard it was bleh"



i'll keep an eye out for your inevitable 1/5 ;) but nah, you might like it - you never know. If you don't like "natural blue" it's probably just not your thing



"It's interesting you see colours in this album, to me it feels quite darkish"



Cheers Dewinged, and thx for the kind words too. For me, a lot of the color I see in the album stems from the lyrics and the different experiences she's singing about. I personally don't find it to be all that dark, it can be pretty melancholic, but it's also really peaceful to me



-oh hey Doof, not surprised you don't dig this much haha. Any tracks stand out at all or was it just a snooze fest for you?



Sabrutin
February 1st 2017


4119 Comments


Heard a couple tracks last week-ish and wasn't feeling it that much.

Great review though, [fixed]

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2017


12417 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Have to be honest not one song stood out, I did find it snoozy...the 'interlude' maybe for just taking a break from the vocals.



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