sun 14/07/2024

Album: Julie Byrne - The Greater Wings | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Julie Byrne - The Greater Wings

Album: Julie Byrne - The Greater Wings

US singer-songwriter’s poignant memorial to loss

Julie Byrne's 'The Greater Wings': deeply affecting

“Summer Glass” is The Greater Wings’ fourth track. A synthesiser pulse evoking water dripping from eaves unites with glistening harp arpeggios and muted strings. The voice weaving through this is distant, shrouded in fog. Lyrics are about “being ready to travel again,” wanting “to be whole enough to risk again.” Atmospherically, there are intimations of the intense 1969 Jerry Yester and Judy Henske LP Farewell Aldebaran and Beach House at their most oblique.

The new album by the Buffalo, New York-born Julie Byrne initially seems weightless. The delivery is light, nothing bludgeons, textures are gauzy. But as the lyrics quoted above imply, it’s also imbued with a gravity at odds with such weightlessness. It's background explains this. The recording of what has become The Greater Wings began in winter 2020. Byrne’s musical, and personal, partner and producer Eric Littmann died suddenly on 19 June 2021. Work on the album recommenced in January 2022. It was completed in October 2022. Littmann is heard on The Greater Wings, which is for him, about him and the reaction to his death, and what lingers.

A balance is struck between songs with acoustic guitar or piano as the lead instrument. As with “Summer Glass,” there are also songs where the instrumental spine comes from Littmann’s speciality, an analogue synthesiser. All this is bound together with the elegiac atmosphere, lyrics which are raw but reflective, supple melodies and Byrne’s warm, yet often solemn, voice. Arrangements are appropriately subtle.

Byrne’s earlier releases – her first cassette arrived in 2012 and, since then, there has been a further cassette, a compilation, digital-only releases and more traditional albums – revealed her as a folk-inclined singer-songwriter of rare intensity. Unsurprisingly, given what has fed into it, the deeply affecting The Greater Wings is even more potent than what came before.

@MrKieronTyler

Julie Byrne is a folk-inclined singer-songwriter of rare intensity, and 'The Greater Wings' is even more potent than what came before

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