Julie Byrne

Julie Byrne

Nadia Reid

Thu, December 7, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 6:45 pm

First Unitarian Side Chapel

Philadelphia, PA

$15.00

This event is all ages

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6:30pm Show
9:00pm Show

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Julie Byrne
Julie Byrne
Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not for Julie Byrne; whose power of lyrical expression and musical nous seems inborn. Often what comes naturally cannot be driven by speed and time. Julie’s second album, Not Even Happiness, has evolved at its own pace. It spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers of the California coast, and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Her new album vividly archives what would have otherwise been lost to the road, and in doing so, Byrne exhibits her extraordinarily innate musicality. 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 transient homes in recent years. For now, she’s settled in New York City, moonlighting as a seasonal urban park ranger in Central Park. Whether witnessing the Pacific Northwest for the first time (‘Melting Grid’), the morning sky in the mountains of Boulder (‘Natural Blue’), or a journey fragrant with rose water; reading Frank O’Hara aloud from the passengers seat during a drive through the Utah desert into the rainforest of Washington State (‘The Sea As It Glides’), Not Even Happiness is Julie’s beguilingly ode to the fringes of life.

“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.”

Not Even Happiness offers a bigger picture to its predecessor through a wider exploration of instruments and atmospherics, revealing an artist who has grown in confidence over time. This form of self-evolution permeates through the track titles, as the album opens with, ‘Follow My Voice’ and ends with, ‘I Live Now as a Singer’.” “Those two songs are the nearest to my heart, without hesitation. This is an album with a far stronger sense of self, and fidelity to self than the last,” she says.

Her last album was released in January 2014, on Chicago based DIY label Orindal after first existing as two separate cassette releases. Rooms With Walls and Windows went on to become a true modern-day word of mouth success story (it would have to be for an artist who shuns all forms of social media). By the end of the year, it was voted number 7 in Mojo Magazine’s Best Albums, with the Huffington Post calling it, “2014’s Great American Album.” A collection of hushed intimate front porch psych-folk songs, recalling the greats, but strongly emanating the essence of timeliness. Her journey to follow was captured in two summers through Europe, playing the Green Man Festival and End of the Road, as well as lesser trodden tour paths around Italy.

In the live arena she enchants, leaving rooms and festival crowds mesmerized by her voice and warm presence, where many find a real connection with Byrne’s intimate songs. This feeling is often shared: “The most magical thing about performing these songs is that afterwards, so many of the conversations I have escape all small talk,” tells Julie. “Shows don’t always have this spirit, but when they do, every person has contributed, even unknowingly, to creating a space of responsiveness to each other through vulnerability, through our unified experience and honesty about our sorrow and our emergence.”

Julie Byrne is taking Not Even Happiness on the road throughout 2017.
Nadia Reid
Nadia Reid
Self-discovery doesn’t come easy. It’s usually a rite of passage to get burned before the wounds can heal and often takes a new perspective to truly understand yourself. 18 months and 10,000kms travelled since many needles first dropped on her debut LP Listen To Formation Look For The Signs, it’s safe to say with new album Preservation, Nadia Reid now knows herself extremely well.

“‘Preservation’ is about the point I started to love myself again. It is about strength, observation and sobriety,” Nadia says. “It’s about when I could see the future again. When the world was good again. When music was realised as my longest standing comfort.”

Through cavernous lows, blissful highs and globe-trotting adventures, music has been by Nadia’s side the entire way. Whether in New Zealand’s familiar rugged beaches and mountains, brutally windy Wellington, her hometown harbour Port Chalmers or the untrodden territory of faceless hotel rooms or the jungle in Kuala Lumpur, every episode of loss, heartbreak, and disappointment glimmers throughout. “Travelling inspires me. I’m learning that things need to happen for the writing to come. Like making time to be alone with my guitar. I’ve grown to crave that. I almost like to starve myself of it to crave it.”

For some, being so far removed from all you know would be unsettling, but Nadia is keen to embrace the challenge of moving forwards in the face of uncertainty. “This place of newness must be where all the good stuff happens,” Nadia reveals. “An artist must be uncomfortable, must tour the world, and mustn’t stay in her home-town for too long. I feel very happy and changed by my time abroad. I have fallen back in love with music, or perhaps learnt to trust her a little more. Often in times of exhaustion, confusion, and home-sickness, music has been the constant.”

An ode to self-reflection and self-betterment, Preservation is the sound of Nadia showing her true colours, taking back a bit of power, and learning more about herself. Deeply intellectual but felt by all, it punches harder than before. Nadia’s beautifully warm vocals coolly wrap around feelings of turbulence, and exude a gently improved confidence. “This record is about being OK with who I am in the world, and who I want to be. Learning to live with the fact I’m a person who operates differently to others, “admits Nadia. “I’m richer for the fact I am a musician. Without this way of being, I couldn’t write songs.”

Returning to the production skills of Ben Edwards in his Sitting Room studios and long term guitarist Sam Taylor, this time around everything is rubbed in more grit and channels Nadia’s deftly profound take on life and whilst we already knew it, her own realisation that it is music which drives her. “I remember recording the tracks, it was about 11 at night, and I felt almost transcendental, as if I was out of my body, singing these words to myself. That’s what these songs are; a confession to my future and past self.”

Nadia has seen the world she once knew become a whole lot larger. Simply singing her truth has taken her to becoming acquainted with her Scottish and Irish heritage during her first full European tour, downtime with long-time sister-from-another-mister Aldous Harding and even making the odd award shortlist along the way (NZ’s 2016 Taite Music Prize).

Rather than growth in its most typical sense of any artist finding their way in the world, Preservation marks a natural passing of time – what you pick up along the way is a bonus. “Making music feels like a very natural expression for me – to record songs and mark time a little. Just like a painter needs to paint pictures.” Sometimes those home comforts can be found a little closer than you might think.
Venue Information:
First Unitarian Side Chapel
2125 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
http://r5productions.com