Tag Archives: Folk

Album Review: Not Even Happiness – Julie Byrne

Image result for not even happinessFun fact: if you travel to Central Park when she’s not on tour, you just might find Julie Byrne working as a park ranger… that is, if she’s still in New York City by that point. The self-described nomad with the voice of liquid silver has been chronicling her travels over the U.S on Not Even Happiness, speaking plainly of love and loss in a reflective confessional rife with bucolic allusions. The album is at once sweeping and intimate, a good listen for those cross-country road trips or in the comfort of your own bed.

Byrne is not discriminatory in her choice of folk muses, channeling Joni Mitchell on “Follow My Voice,” Ben Howard on “Morning Doves,” and even Enya on “I Live Now As A Singer.” She draws inspiration from her peers both past and present, combining their strengths so effortlessly that she creates her own unique sound. Not Even Happiness is plays out in a trance-like state, almost suspending the listener in a dream as Byrne draws them in with quiet, naked introspection.

Byrne is careful not to fall into the folk trap of redundancy; she incorporates confident fingerpicking and classic folk influences with some more avant-garde electric keyboard work, exploring with reverb and echo effects without letting them swallow her narrative. Not Even Happiness follows an interesting narrative, as if Byrne is drifting out to sea, off to her next adventure.

“Follow My Voice” draws you in with strong fingerpicking, accompanied only by a sly keyboard reverb that emphasizes the beginning of quiet reflection. Byrne’s voice is unadorned and at the forefront of the mix, softly whisper-singing confessions into your ear. “Sleepwalker” provides a faster pace, incorporating layered fingerpicking to create a flowing river effect. Again, Byrne’s vocals are the centerpiece; she is not hiding behind her instrumentals, choosing instead to use them as a simple but detailed backdrop for her well-articulated lyrics.

 On “Natural Blue,” a calm, repetitive cadence and melody evoke a lullaby. Faint vocals are faded and distorted by echo, and gentle harmonies add subtle layers to round out the track. Byrne includes wave sounds on “Sea As It Glides,” binding nature with nurture for the entire duration. The track reverberates and sways as it continues, and the accompanying instrumentals are constantly in motion. When Byrne sings “you are the sea/as it glides,” you are very likely to believe her.

Byrne introduces the album in a very grounded way, and by the time the last notes fade from “I Live Now As A Singer,” she has disappeared into the instrumentals, leaving us with only an echo. The production on Not Even Happiness is impeccably done, and the sound fills the space of wherever you are; Byrne’s voice slips through the speakers to make a nest between your ears, curling up for a long winter’s nap. I know one thing for sure: I can now face the harsh Montreal winters armed with Byrne’s gentle warmth.

Album released: January 27, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

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Concert Review: Courtney Barnett @ Metropolis

courtneyCourtney Barnett has amassed a huge following over the past year with her heavy handed approach to irony-ridden folk storytelling.  Her straightforward manner of songwriting follows her everywhere as she tours with only a three piece band and doodles the designs for all of her merch and album art.  This week at Metropolis, Barnett showed just how fun she can be in front of a rowdy crowd with a deep sense of love and admiration.  The near 90-minute set served as a perfect rundown of her whole career including her newest single “Three Packs a Day” as well as older hits off of her first EP Sea of Split Peas.  Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the night was just how well received her set was.  Having gotten the chance to see her last summer at the Newport Folk Festival, I felt like the massive Metropolis crowd served her music well, with each and every lyric and guitar lick being supported by riveting cheers and rousing sing alongs.

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Concert Review: Chelsea Wolfe @ Fairmont

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The genre of Chelsea Wolfe is a bit hard to put down.  In 2015 she released Abyss, an album that epitomized her turn from a darkly tinged folk artist into a full-fledged member of the gothic rock community.  Although the music was dark and powerful, her slow tempos and vocal delivery still hearkened back to the days of her more folk-related stylings.  The title of this album serves as the best possible description of her music, Wolfe’s beautifully reverberated voice is the only source of light in her black sonic landscape forged by punching distortion and primal drumming.  On May 16th at the Fairmount Theatre in Montreal, Wolfe showcased the ability of her music to translate to the live setting.  The night was surreal.  Wolfe effortlessly combined her creepy, Halloween themed vocal whisperings with the smashing capabilities of her band, switching between unsettling intimacy and apocalyptic destruction constantly. Continue reading

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Album Review: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Paper Mâché Dream Balloon

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It felt wrong to be listening to Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, the latest release from Melbourne-based group King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, on a crappy winter’s day in Montreal. This sunny collection of songs provides a healthy dose of summer nostalgia, with simple melodies and gentle chord progressions that will make you want to float off down a lazy river somewhere. Continue reading

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If You Got Ears with Benoit and Myriam: September 30th 2015

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If you listened in today from 12-2pm, you would have heard the soothing sounds of Benoit Chaput (with the behind the scenes help from Myriam Gendron) streaming from our studios. The pair delivered a myriad of folk and underground music, perfect for a cloudy and calm afternoon. Unfortunately, it was their last day hosting If You Got Ears here at CKUT, but you can always catch the previous episodes from this month on our archives.

Next month’s residency is with Jen Reimer and Max Stein, who will be dedicating their residency to incorporating many different musical textures with the sounds of the city~~

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If You Got Ears with Benoit Chaput & Myriam Gendron: 23rd September 2015

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Today was a good day here at CKUT, beautiful weather and great programming combined to create an awesome vibe. Benoit Chaput hosted If You Got Ears (which airs every Wednesday from 12-2pm) and presented us with some quality folk tunes and other selections. Benoit is hosting If You Got Ears this month with Myriam Gendron, a talented musician, who although unfortunately can’t make it into the studio live is a driving force in the show. September is coming to a close though, so don’t miss their last episode next Wednesday or you’ll be full of regret~~