Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness


It’s insanely fucking hard to write a folk album. Because each song is supposed to bear a piece of your soul. It’s what determines if a folk album is good or not. Outside of this it’s just some college motherfucker playing acoustic guitar badly in order to get laid. If a listener can’t feel themselves in the lyrics, in the tones, then there’s just no fucking point to it. Clock out. Pack your bags. Go home. And believe me, avid listeners can tell when songs become dishonest, when the heart just isn’t there anymore, when the words and chords are there just for show. There’s been this new fucking trend for folk recently that tries to take a different route. They’ll wear cynicism and try and call it honesty. “Hey, look at me!” they’ll say, “I’m an asshole. Aren’t I so honest?” Straight up? No, you’re not. And fuck off. 

George Carlin said it best, “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” I understand the craving to present the cynic. It’s way more comfortable and adult-feeling than being honest. And it’s impossible to live each day as an exposed fucking nerve and whatever porous creature we evolved from. But that’s the beauty of folk music. For a song or two someone can take off that load they carry and listen to someone else share their soul. It’s hella romantic and personal as fuck.

Julie does not suffer from this new folk trend. Instead, she has dug deep into herself, and to what folk is all about, to produce an album made of vulnerable honesty. A rare material in this day and age. This is Julie’s own words regarding the first song on the album, “For so much of my adult life, in great secrecy, I’ve felt a deep concern that part of me would always feel alone, misinterpreted, or unreachable. That feeling of aloneness was more familiar and constant to me than any romance had ever been, so much that I drew strength from it.” Sweet lord that’s honest. It’s so relatable. And it’s exactly what I’m fucking talking about. To strip off all of that anger and ego, to remove all that armour gathered over the years, this is what folk music is supposed to be about. Because, if you strip off enough layers, to the point where you’re stripping off skin, then it’s fucking relatable. Then it’s fucking folk. Cause we’re all blood and bones in the end.  

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