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Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh

Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh

Ghostly International

Dec 01, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Julie Byrne’s jaw-dropping 2023 LP, The Greater Wings, was her first in six years, and, rightly, likely to make an appearance in numerous album of the year lists. That we have now been blessed with what could be considered a companion EP, in the form of Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh, is quite possibly the perfect early Christmas present.

Byrne has collaborated with singer and instrumentalist Emily Fontana, and New York-based artist Taryn Blake Miller (who also records as Your Friend, and in whose apartment the EP was written and recorded in the winter of 2022). The result is a four-track release that showcases a delicate, tender reflection on loss and hope.

Opener, “’22” exposes the brittle nature of human existence through Byrne and Miller’s haunting two-part harmony. “They tried to say/That part of me is gone/When in fact/I am vital as the summer breeze” cuts straight to the bone. It’s followed by an arresting country-tinged cover of Jackson Browne’s meditative “These Days,” Byrne’s somber vocals amplifying the sense of misplaced purpose in Browne’s own 1973 California folk rock version—and taking it beyond Nico’s somewhat laconic original recording of 1967. “Velocity! What About the Inertia!?” wraps Byrne’s breathless voice in Fontana’s bassline and Miller’s clear-toned guitar, to once more contemplate the passage—and nature—of time. Instrumental closing track, “Entropy Increasing,” employs electro-synth loops to form a breathing pattern, to evoke the rhythm of time, only in its final moments switching to soaring strings and reverse loops, embodying a desire we all feel at some point, to turn back the clock.

Does time heal all wounds? What’s for sure is that it seems to almost stand still when listening to this EP, allowing pause, to consider where we’ve been, and where we’re going. Beyond the musically haunting nature of this music, there are real ghosts been confronted here, and a greater power at work. As sublime as it is subliminal. (www.juliemariebyrne.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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