To put on Big Thief‘s superb sophomore album Capacity, or Julie Byrne‘s flawless declaration of visceral folk on Not Even Happiness? That was a usual question I asked myself regularly this summer while settling down in a chair with a drink watching the rests of the daylight fading away. Whether in the lush garden of the country house or in a hot bedroom in a buzzing city before the dusk, I rarely felt like coming back to other artists than those two over the course of this summer, and I would like to take few minutes of your life and introduce both acts here.
With the Big Thief, the process of being fond of the record and the artist has been, as usually with me, very lengthy. First of all, I discovered the single “Shark Smile” in the Bandcamp’s featured list – first time ever I checked that page – and gave the band that sort of listen as if they were one of tens of thousands groups out there who are just releasing a record – this all means, no hype or great reviews which could distort my perception. And, of course, I wasn’t very impressed as it goes when you hear somebody’s music for the first time unbiased. Because to like someone genuinely and discover the potential quality, it takes time to let the relationship evolve and also repeated spins. So while I was coming back to them randomly still not knowing whether I am about to leave them for good, it was when I played the record from start to finish, especially the opening heart-piercing yet comforting track Pretty Things, when something in me triggered the appetite to find absolutely everything about the songwriter Adrianne Lenker and let the band’s sound ripen in my ears.
And so it went, with every single listen the experience was more rewarding, and my bond grew even stronger upon finding Lenker performing the stripped-down versions of the songs on acoustic guitar, which revealed the raw beauty of her voice and songwriting. Those tracks are just stabbing me.
The second artist I have been coming back to is Julie Byrne, a troubadour singer-songwriter, whose stories of experiences and life reflections on the road around the US I find very appealing. It is honest, pristine, unembellished songcraft that didn’t take long to captivate me. The tracklist of nine songs is impeccably split into two halves by a meditative instrumental piece in the middle, and the record as a whole just sucks you in so effortlessly that it’s getting addictive. There is a bunch of replays available through Ba Da Bing bandcamp before you are urged to open your heart AND wallet. I have not done so yet, but I am sniffing like a dog around local record stores to get the album on vinyl.