Live Report: Julie Byrne – EartH, London

A radiant night with a special artist...

Playing live on Tuesday night at London’s EartH, Julie Byrne’s stripped-back performance encapsulated the same transitionary space that the singer/songwriter’s extraordinary album ‘The Greater Wings’ – which landed earlier this year – exists in; holding the anticipation before a note, the breath suspended in decision, the rush of sensations. So much of the writing around Byrne’s album focused on her portrayal of grief and mourning, but I think to other people, myself included, that sound can also be one of heralding, and of calling out to new things, both weighted and weightless. 

The show comes at an important time for Byrne as she returns with her second release of the year, a collaborative EP titled ‘Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh’ featuring a cover of Nico’s ‘These Days’ and three new songs. The group Laugh Cry Laugh consists of Julie Byrne, Taryn Blake Miller, and Emily Fontana, and the project captures the trio converging during the winter of 2022 laying down tracks in Miller’s apartment. 

It’s an intimate homage to that unique brand of romance that one can encounter on New York City’s nocturnal streets — a feeling that time unfurls at its own pace, both fluid and simultaneous. Byrne’s past projects have often come from time spent travelling, but here she incants a new romanticism, but one in familiar dichotomy: the experience of being with everyone and yet, paradoxically, being alone all at once.

Performing a selection of songs from both her projects this year, and an encore that resurrected a track from her excellent album ‘Not Even Happiness’, I couldn’t help but feel that ‘Laugh Cry Laugh’ might serve as a gentle transition into past work, allowing listeners to acclimate to the dimly lit soundscape of an album recorded in near-complete darkness. Shuffling the tracks together, at first, felt like hearing fragments of isolated thought, like reading a diary out of order; morose in singularity but, together, it simply begins to radiate.  

Words: Bryson Edward Howe
Photo Credit: Tonje Thilesen

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