Julie Byrne is an ambient folk singer-songwriter currently living in New York City. Her 2014 debut album Rooms With Walls and Windows was well received by the press, but was a very well-kept secret. That album never came across my desk, but some writers compared it to the stunning Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill by Grouper. Again, I’ve never heard the first Julie Byrne record, but that’s some very lofty praise.
Although I still haven’t heard Rooms…, I’ve played some songs from previous EPs and singles, and I’m reminded a bit of Sharon Van Etten. Some have compared Byrne early stuff to the first couple of Cat Power records, but I don’t really hear that.
After the glow of Rooms…, Byrne moved from Seattle through a few other cities before eventually settling (at least for now) in New York. Apparently, she spends her days working as an urban park ranger in Central Park. She spent a lot of time writing and polishing the new songs before finally setting them down on tape. She used some of the cut-and-paste explanations for the long stretch between the debut and the sophomore record, which is scheduled for release on January 27. She says this is the “most personal” stuff she’s ever written. She also explains that it’s been a period marked by lots of change and lots of personal growth, and it’s taken a long time to figure out how to express that stuff.
So far, I’ve listened to three of the songs from the new record, and I like what I’ve heard. Very much.
Byrne says that “I Live Now as a Singer”, which is the album-closing song, is nearest to hear heart of all the new songs. This is that song.
“I Live Now as a Singer” by Julie Byrne
I really like the dreamy ambiance of it all. There’s something about the tortoise-like pace and the dreaminess that brings Julee Cruise to mind. It also seems like a song that could have been on one of the This Mortal Coil records. It’s got a heavy late 80s/early 90s 4AD Records vibe. That means that it’s going to be in heavy rotation around here.
The new album comes out on January 27. It’ll be released via Ba Da Bing Records in the US, and you can pre-order it here. In the rest of the world, it’ll be released by Basin Rock Records, and the pre-order for that is here