Julie Byrne
Not Even Happiness

(Basin Rock)


My friends keep calling me to say, ‘I’m really anxious.’ I don’t know what to do about it, but I am right there with them. These are anxious times. Scrolling through my Twitter feed a moment ago the wall of news predicting dire Donald Trump policies and reporting terrible human rights violations was broken only by a tweet from some author I follow promoting a lecture titled ‘Will Asteroids Wipe Out the Earth?’ Help! My palms are sweaty and I’m finding it difficult to swallow. I am scared and strung out and my brain hurts because of all the badness.

Enter Julie Byrne, whose second album, ‘Not Even Happiness’, is like a soothing drag on an opium pipe, only with less potential to escalate into an addiction that might ruin your life. This beautiful, meandering record documents Byrne’s transient wanderings across America in search of a home. Its gentle, melting quality is restorative — from the soft folkish melodies of the opening track ‘Follow my Voice,’ to the soothing ocean sounds of ‘The Sea as it Glides’, this is music that offers an antidote to the contemporary collective madness.

I loved ‘Morning Dove’ and especially loved ‘I Live Now as a Singer’, with its twinkly whining soundscape, like the crackle of shattered stars. I recommend listening in a warm, quiet room, with a cup of tea and rain spattering against the windowpanes to experience the record’s full calming effects.