Song of the Day: Julie Byrne – Sleepwalker

photo by Jonathan Bouknight

photo by Jonathan Bouknight

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription.  This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unrealeased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear.  Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Sleepwalker” by Julie Byrne from her 2017 album, Not Even Happiness, on Ba Da Bing!

Julie Byrne – Sleepwalker (MP3)On Julie Byrne’s newest record she makes the move from lo-fi, dreamy folkster to rich, warmly produced singer-songwriter veteran.  Whereas on her previous album from 2014, Rooms With Walls and Windows, she cultivated a home recorded ambiance somewhat similar to Grouper, with Not Even Happiness, she has now taken a signficant step into another sound with an embrace of the studio, making for a richly rewarding decision for the listener.  Byrne’s finger-picking technique, evocative lyrics and restrained, controlled vocals suit the production value wonderfully.

On today’s featured song, “Sleepwalker”, it’s hard to tell if Julie Byrne is describing the process of a young person finding their way in the world, an abusive relationship or the affirmation of finding transcendence within the loving eyes of another.  “And of all the roads and the cities that I passed through / And of all the eyes I have searched inside / The one sense of permanence that I came to feel was mine / Only beneath your gaze.”  In this kind of vulnerable yet courageous writing you can hear the unique strength of a Joni Mitchell or Late For the Sky-era Jackson Browne. In both sound and word, Byrne is entering into a creative life full of depth and beauty.

Julie Byrne will be performing in Seattle at the Capitol Hill Block Party on July 21st.  Angel Olsen, Danny Brown, Perfume Genius and Cloud Nothings will also be performing that Sunday.  That’s an excess of riches for Seattleites right there!  In the meantime, look for more about Julie Byrne on her website watch her perform “Sleepwalker” two years ago at Rough Trade:

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