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Julie Byrne

Rooms With Walls And Windows

    Rooms With Walls and Windows was the debut album by Seattle-by-way-of-Chicago-by-way-of-Buffalo singer, songwriter & guitarist Julie Byrne. Blending psychedelic and traditional folk elements, Julie Byrne creates a highly personal and quietly mystical world that echoes the early work of Leonard Cohen & Vashti Bunyan.

    Rooms With Walls and Windows' twelve tracks were collected from two limited edition cassette releases, recorded between 2011 & 2012 by Jake Acosta in Chicago, Illinois. Each song was recorded live, with Julie accompanying herself on fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Rooms With Walls and Windows was lovingly remastered by Owen Ashworth & Matthew Barnhart.

    Julie Byrne released her second album Not Even Happiness in January to mass acclaim and will take the songs from her two albums on the road throughout the whole 2017.


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Wisdom Teeth Song 
    2. Young Wife 8. Marmalade
    3. Attached To Us Like Butcher Wrap 
    4. Holiday 10. Emeralds
    5. Butter Lamb
    6. Piano Music
    7. Prism Song
    8. Marmalade
    9. Vertical Ray
    10. Emeralds 
    11. Keep On Raging
    12. Piano Music For Lucy

    Johanna Samuels

    Excelsior!

      With a special knack for balancing bright pop melodies with a drifting sense of melancholy, LA based Johanna Samuels new album Excelsior! is a tender, honest document of the importance of companionship above all else. Named after Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna”, Samuels grew up on the classic songwriters of yesteryear (George Harrison, Tom Petty, Neil Young) and after a healthy dose of Elliott Smith and Jon Brion, has spent the best part of the last decade honing her craft.

      'Excelsior! was recorded in a small cabin in West Shokan in NY State, in the middle of the winter with her band and producer Sam Evian but it's songs are full of West Coast sunshine. It's Evian's first full album production at his own Flying Cloud Studios. Recorded mostly to tape, the album is as a gorgeous combination of vintage instrumentation, strong melodic hooks, killer harmonies and Samuels’ elegant voice.

      Samuels seeks those answers through companionship, exploring the depths of her relationships and then calling upon a handful of womxn to provide the album’s backing vocals - a task she’d always performed herself until now. As such, Excelsior! makes a space for the voices of Courtney Marie Andrews, Hannah Cohen, Lomelda’s Hannah Read, A.O. Gerber, Louise Florence and Olivia Kaplan.

      The album takes its name from the signature that Samuels’ grandpa would use before he sadly passed away last December. “He was a very important person to me and he helped raise me,” Johanna explains. “He signed all of his letters and emails ‘Excelsior!’, including the exclamation point. It means ‘ever upward’ and that’s what I wish for everyone: to grow from listening with more empathy and from hearing each other out. I hope this record makes people want to be gentler with each other and themselves.”


      TRACK LISTING

      1. Sonny
      2. Nature’s Way
      3. High Tide For One
      4. All Is Fine
      5. The Middle
      6. Close To The Vest
      7. Song For Sid
      8. Julie
      9. Less Of You
      10. Cathy

      Alex Maas

      Luca

        The music of Alex Maas has always mesmerised. Now, on his soul-baring solo debut Luca, the Texan and Black Angel's singer journey is taking an equally hypnotic detour along the wild trails of his indigenous homestead. Driven by the force of nature, each phase of life is celebrated through songs of love, hope, human connection whilst navigating perils of modern society and tentatively facing the darkness. 

        TRACK LISTING

        1 Slip Into
        2 The Light That Will End Us
        3 Special
        4 Been Struggling
        5 500 Dreams
        6 What Would I Tell Your Mother
        7 All Day
        8 Shines Like The Sun (Madeline's Melody)
        9 American Conquest
        10 The City

        Aoife Nessa Frances

        Land Of No Junction

          On the eponymously titled final song of her debut album Land of No Junction, Irish songwriter Aoife Nessa Frances (pronounced Ee-fa) sings “Take me to the land of no junction/Before it fades away/Where the roads can never cross/But go their own way.” It is this search that lies at the heart of the album, recalling journeys towards an ever shifting centre - a centre that cannot hold - where maps are constantly being rewritten.

          The evocative phrase is the result of a fortuitous misunderstanding. Reminiscing about childhood visits to Wales, Aoife’s musical collaborator and co-producer Cian Nugent, mentioned a train station called Llandudno Junction, which she misheard. “Land of No Junction later became a place in itself. A liminal space - a dark vast landscape to visit in dreams… A place of waiting where I could sit with uncertainty and accept it. Rejecting the distinct and welcoming the uncertain and the unknown.” Reveals Frances.

          The songs traverse and inhabit this indeterminate landscape: the beginnings of love, moments of loss, discovery, fragility and strength, all intermingle and interact. Land of No Junction is shot through with a sense of mystery - an ambiguity and disorientation that illuminates with smokey luminescence. Yet, through the haze, everything comes down to what, where and who you are. Frances has built a universe full of intimacy and depth, with lyrics written through a process of free thought writing. It lends the record fluidity, each song in dialogue with the next not only through language, but the way each musical choice complements or threads into another.

          Navigated by the richness of Aoife’s voice, along with the layers gently built through her collaborators’ instruments (strings, drums, guitars, keys, percussion), gives a feeling of filling up space into every corner and crack. A remarkable coherent sonic world: buoyant and aqueous, with dark undercurrents. The crossroads as a place where someone can be stuck, static in the face of the future, becomes instead an amorphous realm, where the remnants of the past and what is unknown meld together and come to an understanding. Where nostalgia and newness ebb and flow in equal measure.


          TRACK LISTING

          1. Geranium
          2. Blow Up
          3. Here In The Dark
          4. A Long Dress
          5. Less Is More
          6. Libra
          7. In The End
          8. Heartbreak Junction
          9. Land Of No Junction 

          Jim Ghedi

          A Hymn For Ancient Land

            Fourth release on new independent label Basin Rock following highly acclaimed albums by Julie Byrne and Nadia Reid.

            Born in Sheffield before moving around various parts of Derbyshire, Shropshire and Scotland and then settling in Moss Valley - an abandoned and forgotten area on the edgelands of South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire - it makes perfect sense that 26 year old Jim Ghedi’s music feels both fluidly transient yet also deeply rooted to a sense of place.

            In 2015 he released his debut album, Home Is Where I Exist, Now To Live and Die (Cambrian Records), which was an extension of the folk-tinged six and twelve-string acoustic guitar instrumentals he had been forging for some time around Sheffield's pubs and then whilst traveling across Europe. On his second album, A Hymn For Ancient Land, his elemental style of playing has expanded into a fuller band set-up, complete with glorious orchestration and dazzling composition that makes it a truly innovative contemporary record whilst still being rooted in great tradition.

            Through the inclusion of double bass, violin, cello, harp, trumpet, piano, accordion and numerous other instruments, Ghedi has elevated his unique blend of folk music to a level far beyond that of that of his earlier work. Perhaps most remarkable still is how seamless their inclusions feel, rather than wrestling for space, the wealth of instruments float in and out of one another, interlocking absorbing guitars, gently whirring strings and drums that beat like the faint sounds of thunder on the horizon.

            On top of the community of Moss Valley, a driving force behind much of the creations on this record come from Ghedi’s travels, playing shows in numerous rural towns and villages across the British Isles. This traversing through remote parts of the UK, Wales, Scotland and Ireland soon brought a desire to capture the full breadth, scale and beauty of the landscapes he was witnessing. “I wanted to bring in wider instrumentation to somehow resemble the landscapes which musically I could hear in my head, It was at this point I became fixated on connecting the two worlds of classical and contemporary folk” Ghedi says of the album’s birthing period.

            All songs on the album are named after places from said travels - ‘Home for Moss Valley’, ‘Bramley Moor’, ‘Cwm Elan’ etc - and Ghedi’s natural ear and eye for capturing the spaces he inhabits creates an immersive environment, in which the guitar lines seem to mirror rolling hills, the rich hum of the ambience hangs like a gentle morning fog and the intricacies and beauty of the arrangements create something almost tangible in their efforts, like capturing a light dew on the tip ends of grass or the sticky moisture of well trampled soil. Nature permeates through this record from start to finish, gliding through its core like a bubbling brook.


            TRACK LISTING

            1 Home For Moss Valley
            2 Cwm Elan
            3 Bramley Moor
            4 Fortingall Yew
            5 Phoenix Works
            6 Banks Of Mulroy Bay
            7 Sloade Lane

            Self-discovery doesn’t come easy. It’s usually a rite of passage to get burned before the wounds can heal and often takes a new perspective to truly understand yourself. 18 months and 10,000kms travelled since many needles first dropped on her debut LP Listen To Formation Look For The Signs, it’s safe to say with new album Preservation, Nadia Reid now knows herself extremely well.

            “Preservation’ is about the point I started to love myself again. It is about strength, observation and sobriety,” Nadia says. “It’s about when I could see the future again. When the world was good again. When music was realised as my longest standing comfort.”

            Through cavernous lows, blissful highs and globe-trotting adventures, music has been by Nadia’s side the entire way. Whether in New Zealand’s familiar rugged beaches and mountains, brutally windy Wellington, her hometown harbour Port Chalmers or the untrodden territory of faceless hotel rooms or the jungle in Kuala Lumpur, every episode of loss, heartbreak, and disappointment glimmers throughout. “Travelling inspires me. I’m learning that things need to happen for the writing to come. Like making time to be alone with my guitar. I’ve grown to crave that. I almost like to starve myself of it to crave it.”

            For some, being so far removed from all you know would be unsettling, but Nadia is keen to embrace the challenge of moving forwards in the face of uncertainty. “This place of newness must be where all the good stuff happens,” Nadia reveals. “An artist must be uncomfortable, must tour the world, and mustn’t stay in her home-town for too long. I feel very happy and changed by my time abroad. I have fallen back in love with music, or perhaps learnt to trust her a little more. Often in times of exhaustion, confusion, and home-sickness, music has been the constant.”

            An ode to self-reflection and self-betterment, Preservation is the sound of Nadia showing her true colours, taking back a bit of power, and learning more about herself. Deeply intellectual but felt by all, it punches harder than before. Nadia’s beautifully warm vocals coolly wrap around feelings of turbulence, and exude a gently improved confidence. “This record is about being OK with who I am in the world, and who I want to be. Learning to live with the fact I’m a person who operates differently to others,” admits Nadia. “I’m richer for the fact I am a musician. Without this way of being, I couldn’t write songs.”

            Returning to the production skills of Ben Edwards in his Sitting Room studios and long term guitarist Sam Taylor, this time around everything is rubbed in more grit and channels Nadia’s deftly profound take on life and whilst we already knew it, her own realisation that it is music which drives her. “I remember recording the tracks, it was about 11 at night, and I felt almost transcendental, as if I was out of my body, singing these words to myself. That’s what these songs are; a confession to my future and past self.”

            Nadia has seen the world she once knew become a whole lot larger. Simply singing her truth has taken her to becoming acquainted with her Scottish and Irish heritage during her first full European tour, downtime with long-time sister-from-another-mister Aldous Harding and even making the odd award shortlist along the way (NZ’s 2016 Taite Music Prize).

            Rather than growth in its most typical sense of any artist finding their way in the world, Preservation marks a natural passing of time – what you pick up along the way is a bonus. “Making music feels like a very natural expression for me – to record songs and mark time a little. Just like a painter needs to paint pictures.” Sometimes those home comforts can be found a little closer than you might think.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Preservation
            2. The Arrow And The Aim
            3. Richard
            4. I Come Home To You
            5. Hanson St Part 2 (A River)
            6. Right On Time
            7. Reach My Destination
            8. Te Aro
            9. The Way It Goes
            10. Ain't Got You

            Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not so, for wanderer Julie Byrne; whose power of lyrical expression and melodic nous seems inborn. But often, what comes naturally demonstrates against speed. Julie’s second album Not Even Happiness has taken time to evolve, but as it spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers on the coast of California and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Her new album archives a vivid world that would've otherwise been lost to the road and in doing so, Byrne exhibits her extraordinarily innate musicality.

            In fact, some of the album’s songs took two years of fine tuning to get where they needed to be. And if you were to ask her why the follow up to 2014's Rooms With Walls And Windows has taken so long, you’d only be greeted with a bemused smile as though it's the strangest question she's ever been asked; “Writing comes from a natural process of change and growth. It took me up to this point to have the capacity to express my experience of the time in my life that these songs came from.”

            Having counted Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Northampton, Massachusetts, Chicago, Illinois, Seattle, New Orleans as her home in recent years. For now, Julie has settled in New York City where she moonlights as a seasonal urban park ranger in Manhattan. Whether witnessing the Pacific Northwest for the first time (‘Melting Grid’), the morning sky in Colorado after staying up through the night at a house party in the mountains of Boulder (‘Natural Blue’), recording the passage of freight trains on the outskirts of Buffalo, New York ('Interlude'), or a journey fragrant with rose water; reading Frank O’Hara aloud from the passengers seat during a drive through the desert of Utah into the rainforest of Washington State (‘All The Land Glimmered Beneath’), Not Even Happiness is Julie’s beguilingly ode to the fringes of life.

            Self-taught on the guitar after picking it up when her father became ill and could no longer play the instrument himself, Julie readily admits she can’t read music and doesn't even listen to it all that much - the first vinyl she owned was indeed, her own. Recorded with producer Eric Littmann (Phantom Posse), Julie laid down the new album in her childhood home in western New York state and offers an altogether bigger picture to its predecessor through a wider, yet subtle, exploration of instruments and atmospherics, Not Even Happiness reveals an artist who has grown in confidence over time.

            Byrne's debut album was released back in January 2014 on Chicago based DIY label Orindal after initially being as two separate cassettes releases. Rooms With Walls and Windows went onto become a true modern-day word of mouth success story (it would have to be for an artist who shuns all forms of social media) and ended the year being voted number 7 in Mojo magazine's best albums of the year, with the Huffington Post calling it "2014's Great American Album". A collection of hushed intimate front porch psych-folk songs, that unknowingly recalled the greats, but felt very much for our time. It saw her travel to Europe over two summers playing the Green Man festival and End Of The Road, as well as lesser trodden tour paths around Europe.

            Julie Byrne will take the songs from Not Even Happiness (the first release on a new record label Basin Rock, based in the Lancashire / Yorkshire border town of Todmorden) on the road throughout 2017.


            STAFF COMMENTS

            says: Lightly strummed and impeccably arranged folk guitars meet with swaying and mournful vocals all purposefully and beautifully delivered as a shining example of minimal affectations with maximum results.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Follow My Voice
            2. Sleepwalker
            3. Melting Grid
            4. Natural Blue
            5. Interlude
            6. Morning Dove
            7. All The Land Glimmered Beneath
            8. Sea As It Glides
            9. I Live Now As A Singer


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