Julie Byrne is a nomadic singer-songwriter based in NY, who’s releasing a new album, Not Even Happiness, on January 27 through Ba Da Bing Records. Recently, she shared the opening track “Follow My Voice.” Not Even Happiness adds atmospheric instrumentation and electronic flourishes to Byrne’s unusual guitar tunings and fingerpicked melodies, moving the songs from the front-porch into subtle anthemia.
Some of the songs on Not Even Happiness took years of fine-tuning to reach their fruition. If you asked her why the follow up to 2014’s Rooms With Walls and Windows has taken so long, you’d be greeted with a bewildered expression melted into a smile -as though the strangest question had just been asked. “Writing comes from a natural process of change and growth. It took me up to this point to have the capacity to express my experience of the time in my life that these songs came from.”
Julie Byrne has counted Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans and Northampton, Massachusetts as her homes over recent years. For now, she’s settled in New York City, moonlighting as a seasonal urban park ranger in Central Park.
“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’,,,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.”
Julie taught herself guitar, picking it up when her father became ill and could no longer play. She readily admits she can’t read music and doesn’t even listen to it all that much -her own vinyl was the first in her possession. Back to her childhood home in western New York state to record the album with producer Eric Littmann (Phantom Posse), friend Jake Falby contributed strings at a cabin in Holderness, New Hampshire. “Without possessing the right words, I’d describe to Eric and Jake the feeling I wanted a song to evoke, or I would take a shot at singing what was in my head.Though over all, their contributions to the record are entirely their own vision and their own power. I trusted each of them and we chose each other; our songs came from that place.”
Julie Byrne will be taking Not Even Happiness on the road throughout 2017.